Iowa City investigated by Feds for allegations of ADA compliance - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City investigated by Feds for allegations of ADA compliance violations

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - A federal investigation is underway in Iowa City to see if the city violated the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

A letter sent from the U.S. Attorney General's Office, dated May 22, 2014, claims the city has a substantial number of sidewalks that lack compliance to ADA rules.

According to the letter, "The U.S. Attorney General's Office would like to resolve the matter expeditiously and without restoring to litigation."

However the investigation has been underway for close to four months, but Iowa City Mayor, Matt Hayek says they didn't even hear or see about a letter until last week.

"As far as I can tell, the staff haven't seen it either until it was brought to our attention," said Hayek.

The letter alleges that curb ramps lack the ADA compliance, and restricts mobility for individuals using wheelchairs.

Harry Olmstead is a member of the Johnson County Task Force on Aging and has needed his wheelchair for 14 years to get around.

Olmstead originally went to the city to complain several months ago, and says the city didn't resolve anything in the time he would've liked.

That's when he went to the task force on aging to express his concerns with Iowa City's lack of curb cuts and steep ramps in some southeast parts of town, which sparked the investigation

"I hope the city will admit that they're not in compliance and that they get in compliance," said Olmstead. "There's several curb cuts in my area that are too steep and when i go off of them, i just about tip over backwards."

His concern sparked a complaint by the Johnson County Task Force on Aging, which lead to a federal investigation into violation of ADA compliance across Iowa City. 

"For me it's extremely important because I make use of public transit and i go around the neighborhood," said Olmstead. "If i can't get somewhere, it makes it difficult."

Mayor Hayek says the city is always on top of keeping records and responding to requests from federal agencies or other constituents.

"Initially we're going to answer the question posed," said Hayek. "If we learn that we're out of compliance in some respect we'll address that.

However he doesn't think they're violating anything.

He says he thinks the city goes beyond the minimal requirements of ADA rules .He says their commitment to accessibility has and will be strong.

The letter from the U.S. Attorney General's Office gave the city 30 days to respond, but since the city just learned about the letter last week, it's unclear what happens next.

Mayor Hayek says the city is currently working on a response.
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