City responds to ADA complaint

Published: Sep. 28, 2016 at 10:34 PM CDT
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The crack in this side walk would stop a wheelchair in its tracks and it's just one of the many alleged violations in Sioux Falls.

Charles Santee has been voicing his concerns to the city for more than a decade.

Two years ago, he was fed up with the city's inaction and filed a complaint to the Federal Highway Administration.

The US agency sent a crew to Sioux Falls to investigate and drew up a Letter of Findings that was more than 26 pages long, chalk full of ADA violations.

The city had 90 days to respond with a plan.

Sioux Falls assistant attorney, Colleen Moran submitted it to the FHWA this month and also mailed it to Santee, who says he thinks it came up short.

This power chair is Charles Santee's main form of transportation.

“I don’t have a car so I am required to use the sidewalks,” he explained.

He deals with cracks, bumps, and dips every day.

He's been waiting for more 10 years for certain ADA violations to be fixed and he is disappointed at the city's response to the Federal Highway Administration's Letter of Findings.

“I was expecting that the study would have been done, or it would have been enough to say that this fiscal year we will be doing this, this and this,” Santee said.

Crews from the federal agency cited 26 pages worth of ADA violations in Sioux Falls.

The city has four areas to work on.

The FHWA is asking Sioux Falls to enforce ordinances for private property owners, maintain sidewalks, correct public right-of-ways that are currently not compliant, and take immediate action to correct about 11 miles of sidewalks and curb ramps that were not built to code during overlay and reconstruction projects from 2009 to 2013.

The city's response outlines studies and evaluations for each of these areas asking for up to nine months to lay out a plan.

This worries Santee.

“Will we live long enough to see anything happen,” he asked.

The city did cite a project in the design phase that would bring curb ramps into compliance on Minnesota Avenue from 18th to 33rd Street.

“I was hoping something might get done in the interim period between when it was filed and the Letter of Finding finally came out, that the city would start doing some stuff,” Santee said.

Moran says she can’t comment on the complaint since it's a pending legal matter, but she says the city does take ADA compliance very seriously.

“We want to make sure that anyone who comes to Sioux Falls, whether they're visiting, they live here, they work here, that regardless of their ability, they should be able to have the same opportunity as everyone else and that includes being able to get around town,” she explained.

Santee says hitting certain bumps and cracks in Sioux Falls have actually made him fall out of his power chair. He is working to have these violations corrected so that others in Sioux Falls who use a wheel chair or walker to get around, don't have to deal with these issues as well.

KSFY News confirmed that the Federal Highway Administration has received the city's response, but they couldn't comment any further at this time.