SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

THE TOWN OF WINDHAM, CONNECTICUT

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-14-108

 

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 Windham, Connecticut ("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 those of the Town's programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities: Town Hall, Library, Police/Fire Department, Water Department, Lauter Park, and Plains Road Park. Construction of none of these began after January 26, 1992. Alterations to the Library and Water Department commenced after January 26, 1992 and thus must comply with the ADA's alterations requirements. The Department also reviewed the accessibility of all Town polling locations.

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 to interested parties regarding the rights and protections afforded by title II and how the law's requirements apply to its programs, services, and activities. The notice also includes information concerning the ADA Compliance Coordinator and alerts the public to contact that individual if auxiliary aids or services are needed for effective communication with Town officials.

5. The Town has established a grievance procedure for resolving potential violations of title II that includes time frames for processing complaints and appeal to a Selectman.

6. Beginning in 1991, the Town undertook physical alterations of its facilities in order to ensure that they were accessible to persons with disabilities. These included installing an automatic door at the front entrance of the Town Hall and installing an automatic door and an elevator at the Library. The Town completed its self-evaluation in May 1995.

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

REMEDIAL ACTION

7. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding paragraphs 8 through 38 except as provided in paragraphs 41 and 43 below.

8. 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. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

9. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will identify and implement methods for publicizing its ADA notice and grievance procedure on an ongoing basis. Such methods may include adding key information, including contact information for the ADA Compliance Coordinator, to postings within Town facilities, to the Windham Home Page, and to the Town's publications or stationery.

10. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will develop and adopt a written procedure for providing a qualified sign language interpreter at the meetings of its Selectmen upon request of any individual with a hearing impairment, at no expense to any individual or group of individuals with disabilities. The availability of this service will be included in announcements of such meetings.

11. The Town will report to the Department within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement the actions it has taken to comply with these provisions.

B. POLLING PLACES

12. The Town has made arrangements to allow individuals with disabilities to vote at the location of their choice, or to vote by absentee ballot. Polling takes place at the VFW 1724, B'nai Israel Temple, Elks Club, Franco American Social Club, and Windham Center Fire Department. The first three locations are located in the Town's central service district within a one mile radius of each other.

Except for the polling location at B'nai Israel Temple, the polling locations are in facilities that are subject to the obligation to remove barriers to access under titles II or III of the ADA, and thus could be subject to an independent federal compliance review. This agreement does not limit such future enforcement action by any person or entity.

13. The Town will continue to search for facilities that conform fully to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design with respect to parking, exterior routes, entrances, and interior routes to the voting area.

14. The Town will request the responsible officials of VFW 1724 to stripe its parking lot to provide one 96-inch car space, one 96-inch van space, a shared 96-inch access aisle, and correct signage for each space that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space, in compliance with the Standards. §§ 4.1.2(5)(a),(b), 4.6, 4.30.7. The request will specify that the remediations be completed within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

15. The Town will request the responsible officials of the B'nai Israel Temple to take the following actions. The request will specify that the remediations be completed within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

16. The Town will request the appropriate officials of the Franco American Social Club to take the following actions. This request will specify that the remediations be completed within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

17. The Town will request the appropriate officials of the Elks's Lodge to take the following actions. This request will specify that the remediation be completed within 18 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

18. The Town will request the appropriate officials of the Windham Center Fire Department to take the following actions. This request will specify that the remediations be completed within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

19. The Town agrees to provide the option of mail ballots or absentee ballots to persons with disabilities, in accordance with Connecticut law, provided that the ballots are accepted up to and including the day of the election.

20. Until such time as the Town uses polling places that meet the Standards, it will provide a notice in local newspapers and on radio stations before elections that VFW 1724, B'nai Israel Temple, Elk's Lodge, Franco American Social Club, and the Windham Center Fire Department provide only limited accessibility for persons with disabilities. The notice will alert people to the option of mail or absentee ballots.

C. TOWN COMMUNICATION

21. The Town will publicize its central TDD telephone number on the same basis as its voice telephone number. Any publication of the TDD telephone number will include an explanation that it functions as the TDD number for all Town offices.

22. The Town will develop and implement written procedures to ensure that TDD calls are returned by the appropriate Town official on the same day as received. If the caller's concerns or questions cannot be handled promptly, the procedures will require a Town employee to speak to the caller on the same day in order to establish a time frame for the call-back.

23. The Town will report to the Department the actions it has taken to implement these provisions within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

D. SIGNAGE ON ACCESSIBLE AND INACCESSIBLE ENTRANCES

24. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will survey the facilities that are the subject of this Agreement for the purpose of identifying those that have multiple entrances not all of which are accessible, and install signage as necessary in compliance with 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b).

E. PHYSICAL CHANGES

In order to ensure that the following spaces in the Town facilities, for which alterations commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, the Town will take the following actions:

25. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Library:

26. Within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Library:

27. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will review and report to the Department on whether the alterations at the Water Department comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (see § 4.1.6(b)(1)). The Town will complete any necessary physical alterations to this facility within 3 months of the Department's written approval.

In order to ensure 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:

28. Within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Library:

29. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Municipal Parking Lot next to the Old Post Office:

30. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Town Hall:

31. Within 36 months of the effective date of this agreement, the Town will make the following alterations at the Police Department:

32. Within 6 months of the effective date of this agreement, the Town will make the following alterations at the Police Department:

33. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following actions at Lauter Park:

34. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following actions at Lauter Park:

35. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following actions at Lauter Park:

36. Within 1 month of the effective date of this Agreement, the Town will complete the following actions at Lauter Park:

37. Within 12 months of the effective date of this agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Plains Road Park:

38. Within 24 months of the effective date of this agreement, the Town will complete the following alterations to the Plains Road Park:

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

39. 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 until expiration of the Agreement, 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.

40. 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.

41. 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 section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

42. 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.

43. 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 may initiate appropriate steps to enforce section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

44. 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.

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

46. 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.

47. This Agreement will remain in effect for three 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.

48. The individual signing for the Town of Windham represents that he or 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
ALLISON NICHOL, 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 Windham, Connecticut:

______________________________

Date __________________________

 

Project Civic Access | ADA Home Page

February 7, 2001