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Settlement requires ADA compliance for DPW

by Michele Catahay

Guam - As part of a settlement agreement filed in the U.S. District Court of Guam in the case involving Roland Taimanglo versus the Government of Guam and the Department of Public Works, that agency has been required to come up with a prospective plan of projects in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

According to documents filed in the federal court on Tuesday, DPW is required to develop a plan of yearly projects to outline ADA compliance projects. Back in 2001, Taimanglo sued the government for violating the ADA by failing to provide accessibility along Guam's sidewalks.

Executive director of the Guam Developmental Disabilities Council Manny Cruz says this is something they've been advocating for.  "The issue here is pedestrian right of way. I think Mr. Taimanglo, being a person with a disability, he fought very hard to make sure these crosswalks and rights of way are provided for people not only for people with disabilities but for people in general," he explained.

As part of the settlement agreement, DPW must prioritize local government offices and facilities, important transportation corridors, commercial and business zones, facilities containing employers and walkways in neighborhoods and undeveloped areas. The total cost for all projects is over $41 million to be funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Cruz says these plans fit well with a master plan for the construction of main highways. He says it's also important that people with disabilities have access even in public buildings.  "That's one of the concerns that a lot of the buildings that are being built - they're doing the most minimal that they can have but you see a lot of parking stalls that are not really available or not enough and those are the issues with that we're facing with right now," he said.

Cruz says for the longest time, GovGuam hasn't been complying with federal regulation. He says it's most especially important in light of the military buildup.  "This quality of life that they're looking for that there will be a lot more respect and sensitivity and more awareness given to their disabilities and I think a lot of the stores. I'm seeing in the stores, they're making it more accessible for them and to people with disabilities.

"It's a breakthrough and my council more or less have been fighting for this, and I'm glad public works is complying."

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