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Bremerton's Kiwanis Park doesn't measure up to state law

A new ramp at Bremerton
A new ramp at Bremerton's Kiwanis Park, part of a $1.6 million renovation project, does not comply with state disability law standards. The space between the railings, while wide enough for federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, is four inches short of Washington state standards.
— image credit: Kevan Moore

There's no doubt that the recent $1.6 million renovation of Kiwanis Park in Bremerton's Union Hill neighborhood turned the facility into one of the city park system's crown jewels.

There's just one catch, though.

The long V-shaped ramp from the soccer field to the lower play area does not comply with Washington state requirements for those with disabilities. The concrete pathway is wide enough, but steel railings mounted into either side of that path, make the passage too narrow for state standards.

"It certainly meets the city code and federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but there is a discrepancy with the state code," said Bremerton Parks and Recreation Director Wyn Birkenthal. "During a planning review, nobody caught the fact that the state ADA law is more stringent."

The space between the railings, it turns out, comes up about four inches short of state requirements. The federal ADA requirement is 36 inches of space, while the state requires 44 inches of clearance. Birkenthal says neither the city or its contractor on the project, AHBL out of Seattle and Tacoma, was aware of the discrepancy. The error was eventually pointed out by officials from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).

"When the RCO's ADA specialist noticed the ramp width we scheduled a meeting with RCO staff and city staff on site to develop a road map to correct it," Birkenthal said. "AHBL  sent a senior engineer from their Tacoma office to this meeting."

Birkenthal says that AHBL has provided the city with an engineered design to extend the width of the ramp and provided a cost estimate of $20,236.50 to make those corrections. Birkenthal hopes that the work to expand the distance between the railings can be covered by some additional state grant funds and/or some original leftover project funding.

"All the parties are  working together toward remedy, the shape of that remedy will unfold with time," Birkenthal said.

In discussions at the city about improving Kiwanis Park that date back as far as 2007, one of the main goals was to make the park accessible. In addition to state and federal grants used to improve the park, nearby Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church gave $400,000 and the local Kiwanis Club donated $25,000.

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