Compliance with Disabilities Act 
to cost conservation district

Bringing the McHenry County Conservation District into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act is going to be expensive, its executive director said.

The question is how much of the district’s savings – $1.5 million in interest that was put away, in part, for such an issue –  will go toward facility improvements, Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler told the Finance and Administrative Committee at its meeting Thursday evening.

The district had discussed using about $500,000 for the next installment on the Hollows Conservation Area, she said. The payment isn’t due until December 2016. No decision on that has been made.

The answer is difficult to generate without seeing a list of priorities and how much they’ll cost, said Trustee Kent Krautstrunk, who sits on the finance committee.

The district’s board of trustees hired architecture and construction management firms, Roberts Design & Build and Featherstone Inc., both of Downers Grove, to put together cost estimates for changing facilities to comply with the federal law governing accessibility.

The district has a lengthy list of what’s needed and has three years to make progress in the areas not in compliance, Kessler said.

“You don’t have to be a wizard to understand that it’s going to cost us more than what we have to do,” she said.

District staff members will handle the outdoors because they are experienced in that realm, spokeswoman Wendy Kummerer has said.

At issue are facilities that predate the 1990 federal act, Kummerer said. “Since the act was installed, we’ve looked at things through that lens, so the newer improvements are really not the issue,” she said.

Some easily made changes that could be taken care of internally are done, Kessler said, and accessibility issues are addressed when the district makes other improvements.

Nearly $230,000 was earmarked for consultants and some improvements in the budget that ends April 30, Kessler said. About $195,000 has been or is to be spent.

The district will focus on public areas, as opposed to employee-only areas, unless it makes sense to do both in one swoop, Kessler said.

More details will be worked out by February or March, she said.

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