SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

THE TOWN OF FARMINGTON, MAINE


DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-34-52

 

Settlement Agreement | Department of Justice Press Releases

 


BACKGROUND

A. SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION

The United States Department of Justice ("Department") initiated this matter as a compliance review of the Town of Farmington, Maine ("Town") under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. Because the Town receives financial assistance from the Department of Justice, the review was also conducted under the authority of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Department’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G.

The review was conducted by the Disability Rights Section (DRS) of the Department’s Civil Rights Division and focused on the Town’s compliance with the following title II requirements:


The Department limited its program access review to the Town’s programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities: Municipal Building, Community Center, Falls Fire Company, Hippach Field, Walton Mill Pond Park, Meeting House Park, and Philbrick Community Pavilion. Alterations commenced after January 26, 1992 at the Community Center (entrance ramp) must comply with the ADA’s alterations requirements. The Department also reviewed the accessibility of the Town’s polling place which is located in the Community Center.


B. JURISDICTION

1. The ADA applies to the Town because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).

2. The Department is authorized to conduct this compliance review under 42 U.S.C.
§ 12133 in order to determine the Town’s compliance with title II and the Department’s implementing title II regulation, to issue findings and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure a voluntary compliance agreement. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance.

3. The Department is authorized to conduct this compliance review under 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G, to determine the Town’s compliance with § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 29 U.S.C. § 794 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 42.530, 42.108-110, to suspend or terminate financial assistance to the Town provided by the Department of Justice should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart G or to bring a civil suit to enforce the rights of the United States under applicable federal, state, or local law.


C. ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE TOWN

4. The Town has published a Notice of its commitment to provide citizens and visitors full access to all municipal services and to abide by the requirements of title I with respect to hiring and employment. The Notice also alerts persons with disabilities to the right to request auxiliary aids and services, provides contact information for requesting those, and publicizes the Town’s non-emergency and emergency TDD numbers.

The Town published its Notice in the local newspaper, distributed copies to its Department heads, posted copies in its main facilities, and has agreed to refresh the posted copies and make copies available upon request for the life of the Agreement.

5. The Town has made physical changes to provide program access by installing a ramp at one facility and providing funding for another this year.

6. The Town has identified sources of qualified sign language interpreters and vendors that Braille documents, and developed written procedures, with time frames, for fulfilling requests from the public for interpreters and documents in alternate formats (Braille, large print, cassette tapes, etc.). The Town has also adopted a policy to include in announcements of Selectmen meetings that a qualified sign language interpreter will be provided upon request made to the office of the Town Manager.

7. The Town has developed a policy and procedures to ensure that non-emergency TDD calls are returned by a Town employee within 24 hours, that appropriate employees are proficient in the use of a TDD, and that the equipment is maintained in working order, through training and test calls.

The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Town of Farmington, Maine. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties hereby agree as follows:

REMEDIAL ACTION

8. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing civil suit in this matter regarding ¶¶ 10-27, except as provided in ¶¶ 30, 32 below.

9. The Parties agree that the technical requirements and, where appropriate, the scoping requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design ("Standards") are used as a guide for determining whether a program or activity held in an existing facility is "readily accessible to and usable by" persons with disabilities, and for determining what changes are necessary to make this program or activity accessible if it continues to be provided in the existing facility in question. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.150(b)(1), 35.151. The Standards appear at 28 C.F.R. Part 36, Appendix A.


A. POLLING PLACE

10. The Town’s polling station is located on the first floor of the Community Center. Voters are instructed to exit through a door that is abutted by a short, steep ramp that does not comply with the Standards. Within 45 days of this Agreement, the Town will allow voters with mobility impairments to exit through the accessible front door to the Center’s first floor level unless proscribed by Maine state law, or will modify the ramp at the east entrance to comply with the Standards. §§ 4.3.8, 4.8.


B. TOWN COMMUNICATION

11. The Town will publicize its central non-emergency TDD telephone number on the same basis as its voice telephone number on official stationary and professionally produced business cards within 150 days of the effective date of this Agreement, on computer-generated business cards within 60 days of the effective date, and in the next edition of its Annual Report and the public telephone book. Any publication of the non-emergency TDD telephone number will include an explanation that it functions as the TDD number for all Town offices, and will distinguish the emergency 911 TDD number.

12. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will develop a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the Town’s accessible services, activities, and services and submit its proposal to the Department in writing. The proposal, as approved by the Department, will be implemented no later than 12 months from the effective date of the Agreement.


C. PROGRAM ACCESS

13. The Police Department counter in the Municipal Building is 42 inches above the finish floor, too high to be accessed by persons who use wheelchairs. The Town will post a sign at a nearby, accessible counter (Station #3) and at the Police Department counter advising persons who use wheelchairs that service is available at Station #3 upon request, and will deliver services in an adjacent conference room when Station #3 is occupied.

14. There is no accessible route to the Gazebo in Meeting House Park from the sidewalk or street, and stairs lead to its platform. The Town owns the Gazebo and allows it to be used by private groups upon request, but conducts no programs or activities there of its own. The Town will offer alternate, accessible sites upon notice that an individual or group requests to use the Gazebo for an activity that involves a person with a mobility impairment as a participant or spectator.

15. The Farmington Falls Fire Station sometimes hosts social activities but lacks accessible toilet rooms. The Town will offer the Community Center as an alternate, accessible site upon notice that an individual or group requests to use the Fire Station for an activity that involves a person with a mobility impairment as a participant or spectator.


D. PHYSICAL CHANGES

In order to ensure that the following elements at the Community Center, which were altered after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, the Town will take the following actions within one year of the effective date of this Agreement.


16. The entrance ramp does not comply with the Standards. There is an abrupt change in level greater than _ inch at the beginning of the long run; the slope of the long run ranges from 1:9.6 to 1.8; the slope of the short run is 1:6; and the handrails do not have a 1-1/4 to 1 _ inch wide gripping surface, rounded or returned ends, nor extensions parallel to the ground surface. Alter the ramp and handrails to comply with the Standards.
§§ 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.1.2(1), 4.3.8, 4.8, 4.26.

In order that each of the Town’s programs, services, and activities operating at a facility that is the subject of this Agreement, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the Town will take the following actions.

17. Municipal Building

a. Within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, complete the following alterations to the Parking:

Two accessible parking spaces are provided, but the signs designating them are posted low to the ground and neither space is van-accessible. Alter the spaces to provide at least one van-accessible parking space served by an access aisle at least 96 inches wide and identified by an additional van-accessible sign mounted below the symbol of accessibility in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. Raise the signage on the remaining space so that it also cannot be obscured. §§ 4.1.2(5)(a) & (b), 4.6.4.

b. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, complete the following alterations to the Men’s and Women’s Toilet Rooms

(1) The room identification sign is incorrectly formatted and mounted. Provide a sign with raised characters and Braille that is mounted on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door so that its centerline is 60 inches above the finish floor and mounted so that a person can approach to within 3 inches of the sign without encountering protruding objects or standing within the swing of a door. §§ 4.1.3(16)(a), 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6.

(2) The hot water and drain pipes beneath the lavatory are not insulated or configured to protect against contact. Install insulation on them. § 4.19.4.

(3) The mirror is mounted so that the bottom edge of the reflecting surface is 49 inches above the floor. Provide a mirror mounted with the bottom edge of the reflecting surface no higher than 40 inches above the finish floor.
§ 4.19.6.


c. Within 18 months of the effective date of this Agreement, complete the following alterations to the Men’s and Women’s Toilet Rooms:

(1) The entrance door to the women’s toilet room has a clear opening width of 29 inches. Alter the doorway to provide a minimum clear opening of at least 32 inches measured from the face of door to the opposite door stop with the door open to 90 degrees. § 4.13.5.

(2) The stall partitions in both rooms have been removed. Ensure that the toilet area complies with the Standards with respect to clear floor space, toilet centerline, height of toilet, grab bars, position and type of flush controls, and toilet paper dispenser. §§ 4.16, 4.26, 4.27.4.


18. Community Center

a. Within 90 days the Town will complete the following alterations:

(1.) The signs at the spaces serving the basement level entrance are positioned low to the ground, and there is no van-accessible space.

Install signage at each space in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. Alter the spaces to provide at least one van-accessible parking space served by an access aisle at least 96 inches wide and identified by an additional van-accessible sign mounted below the symbol of accessibility. §§ 4.1.2(5)(b), 4.6.4.

(2) The spout outlet height of the drinking fountain near the gym is more than 36 inches above the finish floor. Install a drinking fountain with a spout outlet no higher than 36 inches from the finish floor, or install cups next to the existing fountain so that they dispense from a point no lower than 15 inches and no higher than 48 inches from the finish floor. §§ 4.15.2 & Fig. 27(a), 4.27.3, 4.2.5.


b. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the street level parking lot:

There is no van-accessible space. Alter the spaces to provide at least one van-accessible parking space served by an access aisle at least 96 inches wide and identified by an additional van-accessible sign mounted below the symbol of accessibility in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. §§ 4.1.2(5)(b), 4.6.4.


c. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the basement toilet rooms:

(1) The entry door to the women’s toilet room has a lock that is 59 inches above the finish floor. Provide an accessible lock that does not require tight pinching, grasping or turning of the wrist to operate and that is located no more than 48 inches above the finish floor. § 4.13.9.

(2) The hot water and drain pipes beneath the lavatory in the men’s toilet room are not insulated or configured to protect against contact. Install insulation on them. § 4.19.4.

d. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the basement toilet rooms:

(1) The clear floor space for the lavatory in the women’s room does not extend far enough under the lavatory for a forward reach over the lavatory (due to an obstruction). Alter this lavatory or provide an accessible lavatory that complies with the Standards. § 4.2.4 and Fig. 5(b).

(2) The toilet paper dispenser in the women’s room is located too close to the underside of the side grab bar and interferes with the usage of the bar. Reposition the dispenser so that there is a minimum of 1 _ inches between the bottom of the grab bar and the top of the dispenser, and the bottom of the toilet paper dispenser is a minimum of 19 inches above the finish floor. If the existing toilet paper dispenser cannot be positioned to meet these standards, provide a new one. §§ 4.22.4, 4.17.3 and Fig. 30(d).

(3) There is a board mounted below the back grab bar in the men’s room that interferes with the gripping of the bar. Remove the board. §4.26.2

(4) The paper towel dispenser in the men’s toilet room is a protruding object projecting more than 4 inches into the circulation path at a height between 27 and 80 inches above the finish floor. Reposition the dispenser so that it is not a protruding object and so that its highest operable part is within the reach ranges of a person who uses a wheelchair. § 4.4.1, 4.22.7, 4.27.3, 4.2.5, 4.2.6.

19. The Town shall make the following alterations to the Hippach Field within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

a. Day Camp/Field House

(1) There is no accessible route into the building due to steps to the single entrance of the building. Install a ramp with a slope no greater than 1:12
and that otherwise complies with the Standards. §§ 4.13.8, 5.2, 4.8.

(2) There is an abrupt change in level at the threshold to the entrance door. Alter this threshold so that the change is no greater than _ inch and beveled with a slope no greater than 1:2, or install a ramp with a slope no greater than 1:12 that ends in a level landing at least 60 inches long and deep enough to provide the required level maneuvering clearance for the door. §§ 4.13.6, 4.13.8, 4.5.2, 4.8.

(3) Each leaf of the double doors to the building’s entrance has a clear opening width of 25 inches. Alter the width of the double doors to the Field Camp so that at least one active leaf provides a minimum clear opening of 32 inches measured from the face of the door to the opposite door stop when the door is open 90 degrees. §§ 4.13.4, 4.13.5.

(4) The toilet rooms in the building are inaccessible. Renovate the boys’ and girls’ toilet rooms so that the spaces and elements in each room, including the entry door, clear floor space, turning space, and accessible route, water closet, grab bars, urinal (men’s only, if provided), lavatory, mirror, controls and dispensers comply with the Standards. §§ 4.2, 4.3, 4.13, 4.16 and Figs. 28 & 29, 4.18, 4.19 and Figs. 31 & 32, 4.22, 4.26, 4.27.

20. The Town shall make the following alterations to the Hippach Field within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

a. The picnic area cannot be accessed unless there is an accessible route from the accessible parking spaces. Ensure that there is an accessible route to the picnic area that complies with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(1), 4.3, 4.5.

b. The picnic tables are inaccessible to persons who use wheelchairs. Provide an eating surface that comply with the Standards. See Standards §§ 4.32.3, 4.32.4.

21. The Town shall make the following alterations to the Hippach Field within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

a. There are no accessible routes from the accessible parking to the tennis courts, various ball field bleachers, grandstand, and other spectator areas. Ensure that there is an accessible route to these areas that complies with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(1), 4.3, 4.5.

22. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will review and report to the Department on whether the grandstand at the ball field complies with the Standards. §§ 4.1.3(19)(a), 4.33. The Town will complete any physical alterations to the grandstand within 24 months of the Department’s written directions.

23. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will review and report to the Department on whether all elements of the Hippach Field’s parking, including the required number of accessible car and van parking spaces, the location of the spaces, space and access aisle dimensions, accessible route to accessible entrances, elements and format and location of signage fully comply with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(5)(a), (b), 4.6, 4.30.7. The Town will complete any necessary physical alterations to these areas within 24 months of the Department’s written approval.

24. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will review and report to the Department on whether the Warming Hut at Hippach Field is readily accessible to, and usable by, persons with disabilities. Elements to be surveyed include the route to the Hut from the accessible parking (§§ 4.6, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5); entry door (§ 4.13); service counter (§ 7.2(2)); and toilet rooms (§§ 4.16, 4.17, 4.18, 4.19, 4.22, 4.26, 4.27). The Town will complete any necessary physical alterations to these areas within 24 months of the Department’s written approval.

25. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will review and report to the Department on whether the ramp to the spectator seating at Hippach Field complies fully with the Standards. §§ 4.8, 4.26, 4.5. The Town will complete any necessary physical alterations to this area within 24 months of the Department’s written approval.

26. The Town shall make the following alterations to Walton Mill Pond Park within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

a. The picnic area and river overlook (not including the area along the river’s edge) cannot be accessed unless there is an accessible route from the street parking. Ensure that there is an accessible route to these areas that complies with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(1), 4.3, 4.5, 4.8.

b. The picnic table is inaccessible to persons who use wheelchairs. Provide an eating surface that can be used by persons who use wheelchairs. See Standards §§ 4.32.3, 4.32.4.

27. The Town shall make the following alterations to the Philbrick Community Pavilion within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

a. Parking is permitted on the pavilion grounds, but there are no accessible parking spaces. Establish two accessible parking spaces, including a van-accessible parking space, that comply with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(5)(a), (b), 4.6, 4.30.7.

b. The pavilion and spectator seating at the ballfield cannot be accessed unless there is an accessible route from the accessible parking spaces to these areas. Establish an accessible route that complies with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(1), 4.3, 4.5, 4.8.

c. There are no wheelchair locations in the spectator seating at the ballfield. Establish wheelchair locations in the spectator seating area that adjoin an accessible route and that have lines of sight comparable to those for the general public in compliance with the Standards. §§ 4.1.3(19)(a), 4.33, 4.5.

d. If portable toilets are provided at this site, provide at least 5%, but not less than one, accessible single user portable toilet, identified by the International Symbol of Accessibility, at each cluster where inaccessible units are provided. §§ 4.1.2(6), 4.22.

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

28. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at 90 and 180 days after the effective date of this Agreement, and thereafter at yearly anniversaries of the effective date, the Town will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the Town has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include photographs, architectural plans, notices published in the newspapers, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations.

29. If at any time the Town desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.

30. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will so notify the Town in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 30 days of the date it provides notice to the Town, it may institute a civil action in federal district court directly to enforce title II or to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

31. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.

32. In the event that the Town fails to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department as a temporary modification of the relevant terms of this Agreement, the Department may file suit in an appropriate federal court to enforce the terms of the Agreement, may declare the Agreement null and void and file suit to enforce title II of the ADA, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

33. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person by the Town or the Department on request.

34. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

35. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Town's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.

36. This Agreement will remain in effect for four years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until the parties agree that full compliance with this Agreement by the Town has been achieved.

37. The individual signing for the Town of Farmington represents that she is authorized to bind the Town to this Agreement.

For the United States:

BILL LANN LEE,
Acting Assistant Attorney General

for Civil Rights

By:__________________________
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
RENEE WOHLENHAUS, Deputy Chief
SUSAN B. REILLY, Supervisory Attorney
CAROLYN RUSSELL, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738


Date ______________________

For the Town of Farmington, Maine:
_________________________

PAMELA S. CORRIGAN
Town Manager
Town of Farmington
153 Farmington Falls Road
Farmington, Maine 04938

Date ______________________

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February 6, 2001