On March 22, 2023, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office released an audit report that found “too many” NYC Parks’ facilities have barriers to people with disabilities, and many do not meet the 1990 Americans with Disability Act (ADA) standards. The audit also specifically identifies several Bronx parks that may violate the American Disability Act. This news is concerning for the millions of Americans who live with disabilities and rely on public parks and facilities for leisure and exercise.
The Americans with Disability Act was signed into law in 1990 with the goal of prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life. This includes employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The ADA also requires that public facilities be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that parks, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities must be designed and constructed in a way that allows individuals with disabilities to use them independently.
Several Bronx Parks Alleged To Violate the Americans With Disabilities Act
Unfortunately, the audit report from Comptroller DiNapoli’s office found that many NYC Parks’ facilities do not meet the ADA standards. As part of the report, the comptroller’s office identified accessibility issues at Haffen Park, Bufano Park, Flynn Playground, and Olinville Playground that were never addressed. Some of the specific issues identified in the report include uneven or cracked pavement, insufficient curb cuts, and inaccessible playground equipment.
This is not the first time that the ADA has been the subject of litigation in New York City. In fact, there have been several high-profile cases in The Bronx involving accessibility issues at public facilities. One such case involved the Hunts Point Recreation Center, which was found to have several ADA violations, including inaccessible bathrooms and locker rooms. The City of New York settled that case for $3.5 million and agreed to make the necessary improvements to the facility.
There is no doubt that the ADA has been instrumental in improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. However, the law is not without controversy. Some argue that the ADA has led to a proliferation of frivolous lawsuits against businesses that are unable to meed the law’s stringent accessibility standards. Others argue that the ADA does not go far enough in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all aspects of life.
Regardless of these controversies, it is clear the public facilities, including parks and playgrounds, must be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. These facilities provide important opportunities for exercise, socialization, and recreation for all individuals, regardless of ability. The fact that many NYC Parks’ facilities do not meet the ADA standards is unacceptable, and the City of New York must take swift action to remedy these issues.
If you have any questions about an injury causing that happened in a Bronx park, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.