City of Medford approves $925,000 contract to improve accessibility
George Adams has lived in Medford since 2005. Over the years, he's seen the city grow and change. Wheelchair-mobile, some of those changes have made the difference of whether he can or cannot access parts of his community.
At Thursday night's city council meeting the city voted to approve a 925,000 dollar contract to install 142 ADA compliant ramps around the city.
For many, it fills a critical need - but not entirely. "I think, and I know, that the City of Medford is trying really hard to try to be ADA compliant it's just going to take a bit longer," Adams says.
Since 2013, Medford has had to install or repair ramps wherever they do asphalt overlays, per Department of Justice rules. That can mean more accountability for the city, but it has its drawbacks for other areas in need.
"Now that we have to put them where federal regulations require them to be, that uses up the resources we would normally use to respond to those requests," says Cory Crebbins, Director of Public Works for the City of Medford.
This is a process - something all parties recognize. As the city expands, so does its demands, but consistent construction and development also offer new possibilities if people of all abilities are kept in mind.
In the meantime, Adams urges regular citizens to do what you can to make Medford more accessible. "If you see a person having a hard time, see if they can do it, and if they can't do it try to offer them help," Adams says. "Sometimes we like to see if we can be independent, and if we can't do it, we're going to need the help."
At the same time, Adams says people with disabilities have a role in creating the community they want. He himself sits on a number of community boards and communicates with the city regularly. "I think that people with disabilities should get involved, all types of disabilities. They need to hear from us," he says.
The ramps are expected to be completed in May, but moving forward, he'd also like to see crosswalk signals that accommodate people that are hard of hearing, better parking for vans with lifts, and a collective push for a more accessible Medford.