May 17, 2006
Eye ADA Education, Enforcement
How can East Hampton Town and Village officials encourage local businesses to comply with the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act? Earlier this spring Brian Byrnes, a member of the town's disabilities advisory committee brought concerns about the lack of accessibility to the town board, reporting that many local establishments, restaurants in particular, are not handicapped-friendly.
Since then, code enforcement representatives from both the town and East Hampton Village met with the committee in an effort to brainstorm strategies to enhance accessibility. Tom Lawrence of the village and Dominic Schirrippa, head of East Hampton Town's ordinance enforcement department both participated in what was described as a "lively" discussion about ADA enforcement at a recent advisory board meeting.
Lawrence had researched the extent of local officials' authority to enforce ADA, and learned that they can indeed. All agreed that both the town and the village should work together to develop a consistent protocol for enforcement.
At Lawrence's suggestion committee members plan to work with representatives from the business community to develop a brochure advising local businesses about ADA requirements. "Most businesses are probably not even aware they're not in compliance," East Hampton Town Councilman Brad Loewen observed. Members of the committee plan to create a checklist, then visit establishments to assess compliance.
Lawrence allowed the unique collaboration between town and village officials will focus on bringing all public accommodations into compliance in a reasonable timeframe.
The key word is reasonable, Lawrence underscored, "reasonable in what businesses may have to achieve and our local collective government's approach to it."