RAPID CITY, SD--Sunday marks the 30th anniversary since the signing of the landmark legislation entitled Americans With Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as the ADA.
Upon this weekend's anniversary, officials are reflecting on the City's commitment to removing physical and attitudinal barriers affecting people with disabilities in the community.
"In the three decades since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the City of Rapid City has been committed to addressing issues and barriers affecting residents with disabilities in our community," said Mayor Steve Allender. "It's a commitment the community - from leadership and businesses to residents - must subscribe to every day."
Mayor Allender says City and business leaders, advocates for people with disabilities, the Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities and members of the community with disabilities have generally remained focused on goals of improving accessibility, raising awareness of disability issues, and tearing down both physical barriers and stereotypes that confront people with disabilities.
The Mayor's Committee was formed in 1975 with an ongoing mission to advance, support and promote the equal inclusion, status and well-being of persons with disabilities in all aspects of Rapid City community life. Efforts include educating and informing the public, and fostering a better understanding of important issues to persons with disabilities.
"As a community, we have come to understand that a solid commitment to comply and adhere to the ADA benefits all of us, because just with age comes disabilities," said Catherine Greseth of the Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities. "We have made great strides in understanding and becoming more aware of all types of disabilities, including those that are invisible. This has led to better access, accommodations, employment opportunities, and an opportunity for everyone to reach their fullest potential."
There are numerous improvements to accessibility throughout City facilities, parks and streets. A few examples:
RUSHMORE PLAZA CIVIC CENTER
*During 2016-17, the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and the City of Rapid City invested $1.5 million into ADA upgrades/improvements at the facility. Improvements included new ADA parking, driveway, and sidewalk on the west side of the facility, complete remodel of eight sets of bathrooms, as well as handrail, doors and door hardware replacement throughout the facility. These overall improvements resulted in more clearly-identified ADA access to the facility, ease of mobility throughout the facility, and defined accessible pathways through the interior of the complex.
*In 2009, a $1.7 million Civic Center Theatre remodeling project provided better access with ramps, elevator, improvements to restrooms and theater seating. A year later, life safety, ADA and paging systems improvements were installed in the Civic Center facility.
* In an effort to improve the accessibility of City Streets, the City programs $50,000-$100,000 each year for specific ADA improvement projects where we identify a deficient area and bring the intersection into compliance. In some cases, funding may be “saved” and used for larger projects every two years instead of annually. This is separate and above those construction projects that include ADA enhancements.
*ADA improvement projects include reconstructing ramps, or installing them if there were none, adding detectable warning panels, rebuilding sidewalks near ramps at slopes that meet accessibility guidelines, and in some cases accessible pedestrian signals (APS) are added. These projects have included upgrading accessibility in areas near schools, or heavily-used intersections. In addition to the special ADA projects, all street reconstruction projects and mill/overlay street rehabilitation projects include bringing accessible ramps within the project limits into compliance
*Since 2013, the City tracks the square feet of detectable warning panels installed annually. These panels are the domed, colored panels (usually yellow) that are installed on the ramps.
*The City also scheduled upgrades when necessary to City parking lots and downtown parking spaces to maintain compliance. When new developments include street construction, ADA ramps are included with those projects. These upgrades are paid for by developers. When the State DOT reconstructs a state highway within the City, they also include ADA upgrades within the project limits.
*In 2008, ADA upgrades were made to Dinosaur Park.
PARKS AND RECREATION
*Throughout the years, the City's Parks system has included expansion of the City's accessible bike path, playground and park enhancements, accessible parking and construction of accessible restroom facilities in many areas. In 2010, six ADA restroom facilities were built in the City's park system, including three at Canyon Lake, two at Robbinsdale Park and one at Storybook Island. The restroom facility at the Memorial Park Band Shell was upgraded when the Promenade was built and these efforts also included the building of the Legacy Commons ADA-accessible restroom. The Founders Park ADA-restroom was also constructed and in recent years similar ADA restroom facilities have been built at the Star of the West Complex, Parkview Tennis Courts, Vickie Powers Park and at Skyline Trails.
*Other improvements by the Parks and Recreation Department include the ADA-accessible playground at Legacy Commons, elevators in the Roosevelt Ice Arena and Roosevelt Swim Center. There are four zero-depth pools in the City and these pools include chair lifts. There is additional ADA parking at the Swim Center.
RAPID CITY REGIONAL AIRPORT
*Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) underwent a $20 million renovation in 2012 expanding and updating the terminal facility. Part of that renovation included all new ADA restrooms and the addition of three jet bridges for easier access to aircraft. All seven gates at Regional Airport now have jet bridge loading ability. Regional Airport also employs part-time Skycaps for ADA assistance from curbside to plane and back. In 2016, Regional also developed a brand new website that is fully accessible.
RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM
*Since 1983, the City has provided public transit services for community residents. In 1985, transit services went to a fixed route system which today includes RapidRide's six routes operated by the City's Rapid Transit System (RTS). In 1992, transit services expanded to include the Dial-a-Ride system which today provides call-in transportation services to people with disabilities six days a week. In 2019, more than 75,000 Dial-a-Ride trips were recorded through RTS.
RAPID CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY
*The Rapid City Public Library continues to provide an increasing amount of services for people with disabilities. The facility expanded in 2002, including the addition of an elevator, and went through further renovation in 2017 to adhere to ADA guidelines with wide aisles for book stacks and furniture placement as well as offering Braille wayfinding signage.
*The Library offers a considerable array of services in an accessible facility. The Library has a partnership with the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library to provide services for visually-impaired customers. Customers can choose from a large collection of large print books. There are thousands of eBooks where the text size can be adjusted. Also eAudio books are available for a convenient listening option as are magnifying readers for books and magazines.
*The Library also offers home delivery services for those with permanent or temporary medical challenges that make it impossible or very difficult to come to the library in person.
*In 2019, school administrative offices moved out of the City/School Administration Building at 300 Sixth Street. City Hall is currently undergoing substantial renovations with a focus on improving accessibility. The Finance Office now offers an accessible customer service desk for the general public.
Rapid City has undergone numerous changes since the ADA was signed into law in 1990. Mayor Allender says while the community has come a long way in three decades, it must continue to adapt, evolve and be ready to address issues brought forward by persons with disabilities.
Darrell W. Shoemaker | Communications Coordinator
T: 605.721.6686 | M: 605.939.8551