Hudson considers proposed ADA architect

HUDSON — The Common Council discussed the hiring of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) architect at its May 11 informal meeting.

Two resolutions were introduced related to ADA projects. The first resolution considered would retain Dirtworks Landscape Architecture as the city’s ADA architect. The second resolution would allocate an initial $6,000 for project costs.

On Oct. 23, 2019, the city entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice that “Hudson will retain an Independent Licensed Architect (ILA), approved by the United States, who is knowledgeable about the architectural accessibility requirements of the ADA.”

In March the city of Hudson issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an ADA architect.

The mayor’s office reviewed the seven proposals it received and identified Dirtworks Landscape Architecture of New York City as the most qualified.

“ADA accessibility is an important project,” said Public Works Commissioner Peter Bujanow, who managed the RFP. “Dirtworks brings a nuanced understanding of Hudson’s needs and challenges while also proposing cost-efficient solutions.”

The agreement specifies that the ILA will provide assistance to identify and report to the department all barriers to access along the street level pedestrian walkways to and between the programs, services and activities in the center of Hudson, according to the resolution.

Hudson is required to develop an ADA Transition Plan under Title II of the ADA to remedy non-compliant facilities.

The first project for the selected ADA architect will be a preliminary assessment of the city’s accessibility, particularly focused on the issues that were part of the agreed timeline with the Department of Justice, Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides said.

The architect will act independently to ensure any alterations, additions or modifications to Hudson’s facilities, including sidewalks and curb ramps, made during the three-year term of the settlement agreement comply with the ADA.

While the cost to complete the required architectural assessment and construction costs will be well over $6,000, the initial amount will begin the next stage of the process, Chameides said.

Dirtworks’ portfolio includes the reorganization of the campus layout of accessibility advocate Lakeshore Foundation, designing accessible landscapes for the New York City Housing Authority, and creating a master plan for Pepper Place redevelopment in Birmingham, Alabama, according to a statement from the city.

If Dirtworks is selected, the project leader lives in Hudson, Chameides said.

“Having an architect who lives in Hudson working on this project will lead to project savings, as the project leader won’t bill for travel and can review projects on site more frequently without billing for an entire day,” Chameides said.

Chameides is also the city’s ADA coordinator, and spoke to the council at the May 11 informal meeting.

Chameides said the most ambitious of the city’s proactive work toward ADA compliance is creating a sidewalk inventory to document all the problems, potential problems and ADA issues in Hudson’s central business district and beyond before creating a plan to correct these issues.

Hudson has asked the DOJ for an extension because of COVID-19 and its focus on other projects, Chameides told the council.

“Because of the budget issues, it ought to be helpful to have a little extra time to work on this,” Chameides said. “We were supposed to have submitted this in June, all of these plans, and we’re hoping to do it later on in the year.”

Hudson has approximately 25 different issues at six different sites where it had ADA compliance issues cited in the settlement agreement.

“The city must provide equitable opportunities so that people of all abilities can access city services and public spaces,” Chameides said. “Dirtworks has demonstrated expertise for innovative solutions.”

The Common Council is scheduled to vote on both resolutions at the May 19 formal meeting at 7 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast on WGXC, 90.7, and on the city’s YouTube channel. For the first time, the public can also join the council’s Zoom call, for which information will be posted prior to the meeting.