Settlement Agreement between United States of America and the City of Gadsden, Alabama

On September 25, 2008, the Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement with Gadsden, Alabama, 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, as well as section 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 Department initiated a compliance review of the City of Gadsden in October, 2004, as part of Project Civic Access, a Departmental initiative to ensure greater access for Americans with disabilities to local government programs, services and facilities. City staff worked cooperatively with the Department throughout the investigation in order to reach an agreement.

The Department conducted an on-site survey of City buildings, parks, and services in March, 2005. Facilities covered by the agreement include: Gadsden Museum of Art, Public Works Department and the Senior Activity Center.

The Department also reviewed access for persons with disabilities to Gadsden's programs, services, and activities operating in the following facilities: Amphitheater, City Hall, Convention Hall, East Gadsden Community Center, Elliott Community Center, Gadsden Sports Complex, Jack Gaston Coliseum, Noccalula Falls Park and Campground, Parks and Recreation Office and the Gadsden Police Department.

In addition, the Department reviewed Gadsden's policies and procedures regarding sidewalk maintenance, as well as the Gadsden Police Department's policies and procedures regarding providing effective communication to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Gadsden, Alabama is the county seat of Etowah County. It is located in Northeastern Alabama, approximately 60 miles northeast of Birmingham. The City of Gadsden was named in honor of James Gadsden of Charleston, South Carolina who was an influential railroad man in the mid 1800's when Gadsden was founded. In 1991, Gadsden was awarded the honor of "All-America City" by the National Civic League, an award that honored the way Gadsden's citizens, government, businesses, and voluntary organizations work together to address critical local issues. According to the 2000 Census, the population of Gadsden was 38,978 and there were an estimated 10,002 people with disabilities 5 years of age or older living in the City. The percentage of persons with disabilities is 28.3 percent, 9 percent higher than the national average.

The text of the settlement agreement specifies the modifications Gadsden will be making to its programs, services, and facilities. Among other things, the City has agreed to:

The agreement also recognizes that Gadsden has independently completed a number of steps to increase access to its programs, services, and facilities. Those steps include:

The settlement agreement will remain in effect for 3 years from September 25, 2008.


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