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From The Desk Of CA President Milton Matthews

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For Columbia Association (CA), serving the community means working to serve all members of the community. That’s why CA is not only committed to complying with the new regulations under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also going above and beyond the minimum requirements, when possible.

New ADA regulations and standards were issued in 2010. CA formed a work team in 2011 with members from every CA department in order to create an ADA plan. That plan may be found at www.columbiaassociation.org/ADA.

Complying with the ADA, after all, furthers CA’s mission to ensure that Columbia is an open and caring community. CA is committed to making reasonable accommodations in its services to provide accessibility to all members of our community — regardless of their abilities — so that they are able to enjoy CA’s amenities, facilities and programs.

The list of improvements that have already been made, and will be made, is too comprehensive to describe herein, given the breadth of what CA owns and maintains. These projects include renovations and alterations inside and outside of our facilities, and around CA’s open space.

We have made improvements to parking spaces at several facilities and provided more accessible travel routes into, and within, many buildings; and more tot lots have been made fully accessible, which includes the play equipment, the surface and the routes to and from the lots. At our pools, the improvements include installing lifts, altering bathrooms, repairing decks and walkways, and providing a sloping “beach entry” into the wading pools to make it easier to get in and out of the water. We’ve also added shade structures and play amenities to make the wading pools both inclusive and fun for kids and their parents.

When CA first began to implement the ADA plan four years ago, we reached out to Howard County for guidance on ADA-compliant wading pools and learned that there were none here. CA provided the first ADA-compliant outdoor wading pool in Howard County and will have four ADA-compliant wading pools for the 2016 outdoor swimming season.

CA’s decisions regarding which ADA modifications will be made, and in what order, are based on our ability to do the work and its cost. In addition, whenever CA does new construction or makes alterations to a facility, our plans must include ADA modifications; for example, the third phase of upcoming improvements at Columbia Swim Center will make it compliant with modern ADA regulations.

But beyond that, CA has an ongoing obligation for its existing facilities to comply with the ADA whenever readily achievable. We will make every attempt to satisfy all requests for accommodations, including those that are made with little or no notice. However, we do ask that requests for reasonable accommodations be made at least 48 hours in advance, if possible, in order to better enable CA to make the accommodation.

The overall project has, so far, been a success. CA has accomplished a considerable amount of work during the past several years.

This plan remains a work in progress, however. There will of course be much more work to come.

E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.