M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks & Planning are committed to uphold the integrity of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by delivering appropriate and reasonable inclusive services, modifications, and physical accessibility to ensure social equality and inclusion of all citizens.
Individuals will be afforded respect and dignity while engaging in leisure pursuits to enhance their quality of life in a clean, safe and accessible setting.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA is a civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by 89,004 state and local governments (including Montgomery County) and 7,000,000 businesses and non-profits. Other federal laws preceded the ADA and have helped set precedents for the ADA. The 1968 Architectural Barriers Act applies to federal sites and facilities. Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act applies to states, local governments, businesses and nonprofits that receive federal funding. Many states, including Maryland, have state laws similar to the ADA.
Montgomery Parks are regulated under Title II of the ADA that applies to state and local government. Title II includes regulations that implement the non-discrimination requirements of the law. Additionally, Title II requires Montgomery County to adhere to the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which set minimum requirements for newly designed or altered government buildings and sites. The Title II regulations and the Standards must be used together in order to provide accessible programs and services.
Why did Montgomery Parks and Montgomery County originally embark on this ADA effort?
The revised ADA regulations that took effect in March 2012 incorporate standards for parks and recreation facilities that were not previously available – including standards for fitness, boating and fishing, playgrounds, sports fields and courts, shooting ranges, golf, miniature golf and more. These new standards prompted many local governments to evaluate their parks and recreation facilities.
Montgomery Parks and the County government began efforts to address accessibility in August 2011, at which time they signed a six-year Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to identify and remediate ADA barriers to accessibility. The Settlement Agreement was in response to a DOJ survey of 110 buildings and park sites around the country. As part of our efforts to address ADA deficits and accessibility, Montgomery Parks has conducted public outreach, worked to modify communications, improved signage, reviewed policies and provided additional access and inclusion training for its employees. Employee training for new and current employees is an ongoing effort.
The culture within our county and our Parks have changed and we will continue to strive to exceed minimum standards.
What is the current status of accessibility at Montgomery County parks and associated facilities?
Montgomery Parks completed an evaluation of all of its parks, facilities, and programs in 2015. The results of these evaluations were included in a Final Transition Plan which was submitted to and accepted by DOJ in 2016. These evaluations identified approximately 13,600 barriers to accessibility. The Final Transition Plan identifies which parks and facilities will be made accessible, provides an anticipated schedule and preliminary costs for removing barriers in the park system. The removal of barriers, construction of improvements, and renovations to existing facilities are an ongoing program and will continue for the foreseeable future. Those parks which are accessible and/or offer accessible amenities, can be found on the Montgomery Parks website. Additionally, renovation projects are summarized on the ADA Accessibility webpage. In addition to the program of improvements for physical access, a Program Access Office was created in 2015 which provides inclusion services and employee training among other services to the public.
What is the anticipated time frame for conducting the work and how much will it cost?
Actual renovations and construction work began in 2012 and accelerated after the Final Transition Plan was completed in 2016. The Final Transition Plan anticipated the work would be completed over an approximate 25-year timeframe based upon preliminary construction costing and available funding. The preliminary cost estimates provided in the Transition Plan were approximately $50 million. However, based upon construction completed to date, Montgomery Parks anticipates substantially higher actual costs and a longer timeframe for implementation.
How do you determine which improvements to do first?
The Transition Plan provides a prioritization of countywide as well as community-based parks. Factors which helped determine the prioritization include but are not limited to population density, countywide vs community based parks (visitation indicator), presence of unique amenities, number of amenities within the respective parks, other Capital Improvement Projects, proximity to public transportation, citizen input, age of existing facilities, usage of the site and facility, and funding sources. Additionally, an equitable geographic distribution of accessible facilities and parks throughout the County was factored into the Transition Plan development.
What types of changes will be made for parks, programs and facilities to be considered ADA compliant?
Potential changes to parks and facilities may include adding ADA compliant walkways and ramps to approach public facilities including athletic fields, sport courts, playgrounds, boating facilities, skate parks, shelters, historic sites, etc., installing accessible parking spaces, and adjusting site furniture such as drinking fountains, grills, benches, and picnic tables for accessibility.
How can the public provide input, ask questions or get involved with your efforts?
The public is encouraged to visit the ADA Accessibility Page
link of Montgomery Parks. This page is regularly updated with information about our physical and program access efforts. You can also provide input via email at adacompliancePM@MontgomeryParks.org or by phone at 301-650-2885.
How do I find ADA compliant parks and facilities?
All new renovations and repairs to our existing facilities are performed in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To search for ADA Compliant parks and facilities, please use the filter search tool on the side bar of the ADA Accessibility Page
link, or go to the Parks and Trails Directory tab on the top bar, to use the search tool “Filter By Accessibility”.
You can also find more information about recent completed and upcoming projects related to accessibility on the side bar of the ADA Accessibility Page
What are Montgomery Park programs like?
Parks programs are very diverse! The Department operates ice rinks, tennis facilities, sports facilities, nature centers, archaeological and historical sites, day camps, special events and more! Programs can be very active, passive, involve many people or attract smaller groups. It varies with the program. The program description may explain the program content. The best advice is to contact the facility staff or event organizer for more details.
The Program Access Office staff coordinates support services, free of charge, to participants who register for our programs and request a modification.
What other choices are available for people with disabilities?
Montgomery Recreation, which is a separate agency, offers alternative choices through Therapeutic Recreation Programs for individuals with disabilities. Many patrons have a wide range of strengths, abilities and needs. Some patrons prefer to participate in separate specialized programs designed specifically for people with disabilities
When is support withdrawn?
If a patron with a disability cannot demonstrate the ability to participate at a level of independence like that of his/her peers without disabilities, including meeting expectations listed in the Code of Conduct, support may be withdrawn. Participation levels are continually monitored to ensure this level of independence is maintained and, if needed, Program Access staff can return to the site to assist.