When the west entrance of the Fel-Pro Conservation Area in Cary opened in August, it was complete with a looped paved trail, picnic tables with places for wheelchairs to pull up, and signs that aren’t too high.
Although new sites need to be up to the standards set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the deadline is approaching for all sites.
Public entities were required to put together a transition plan outlining all the changes that would have to be made to make them ADA compliant by March 2012.
The McHenry County Conservation District completed its plan in 2007, spokeswoman Wendy Kummerer said.
The two reports – one on sites and another on facilities – add up to 156 pages, and everything on the list must be completed in three years.
The approaching deadlines come at a time when the district has a lot of new construction going on, Kummerer said, so the staff wanted to be proactive.
“We’re sitting pretty good compared to other agencies because we have always wanted to make things accessible,” she said.
Some of the changes, such as adjusting the height of signs, have been ongoing because they don’t cost the district anything except time, Kummerer said.
Others will have a price, although there is not estimate yet.
Some of that responsibility will fall to Roberts Design & Build and Featherstone Inc., both of Downers Grove. The architecture and construction management firms were hired by the district’s board last week.
For less than $25,000 each, the firms will come up with cost estimates for the facility-related changes.
District staff members will handle the outdoors because they already are experienced in that realm, Kummerer said.
To be ADA compliant, the district needs to offer people with disabilities the same outdoor experience as anyone else, she said. That could be a handicap-accessible fishing pier or observation deck.
Not all the piers, for example, would have to be accessible, but depending on the activity, a percentage would have to be.
The cost estimates will be figured into this year’s budget and should be available by February, she said.
The district will work on the bigger projects as funds become available, but Kummerer said she’s confident it will be complete by the 2015 deadline.
“It just becomes part of several projects that are ongoing,” she said, “but it’s obviously stepped up in priority because it has a deadline.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the MCCD board also was presented with cost estimates on bringing Fox Bluff’s Camp Algonquin up to code, both building and ADA.
PHN Architects looked at six buildings at the site – a dining hall, dairy barn, recreation hall and three dormitories. Most of the buildings date to the early 1900s.
All of the buildings had accessibility issues, said Gary Pingel, a principal with the firm. Pingel and architect Jorge Ortiz outlined other work that would need to be done, including replacing roofs and installing sprinklers.
The cost of refurbishing all six buildings would be more than $5 million, the firm estimated, according to documents submitted to the board.
While the site had been used and designed as a camp, it could serve other purposes in the future, said the district’s executive director, Elizabeth Kessler. Those will be presented at a later date.
To see the complete list of what needs to be done before the 2015 deadline, go to the McHenry County Conservation District’s website at www.mccdistrict.org and click “Accessibility” under the “About Us” tab.