By: Sharon Langer
I love to walk on Saturdays on our city of Coral Gables public golf course. It has been a destination for walkers, runners and joggers for as long as it has been built for the last 50 years.
The City of Coral Gables recreational programs or activities, such as those offered at the golf course, play an important part in the life of our community. Through years and years of the footsteps of joggers, runners, walkers, and all types of paw-steps, a path in the grass and dirt has been worn around the golf course that allows all people to safely take your walk or run away from the traffic on the street. This past Saturday the path was filled with dogs and their owners, kids, and adults. Rather than discouraging the use of this path created by popular demand, the City of Coral Gables encourages its use by recently installed doggie pet waste stations on the path around the golf course to encourage folks to “curb their dog”, planting trees around the path, and placing beautiful stone benches if you wish to sit awhile.
This summer, the City of Coral Gables decided to renovate the Granada Golf Course, but they specifically decided not to alter, change or improve the pedestrian path around the golf course. Notwithstanding the charm of the well-worn path, it is totally inaccessible to anyone with a mobility impairment. That means, that people with disabilities need to use the street, where there are no sidewalks or curb cuts. In the 1990s, cities were required to determine if any physical or policy barriers exist that may keep people with disabilities from participating. Over 10 years ago, the City of Coral Gables entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice to ensure that the City’s facilities, programs and services are accessible to persons with disabilities.
My fellow Coral Gables residents who are individuals with disabilities cannot use this recreational area on an equal basis with the rest of the public. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that when facilities are built or altered, they must comply with the ADA Standards, which have specific technical requirements for elements and spaces, such as accessible routes. So when the city alters the golf course, they must ensure that the path is accessible.
The fix is easily accomplished without much expense at all. The timing to make access to this beautiful place available to all is now because the golf course is currently being renovated. In fact, last Saturday the bulldozers were out scooping up the greens not three feet from the very path I have described.
With virtually no cost to our fine city, a fully accessible path can be created now in honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA and to show our residents that our city does welcome all to their public venues. It’s only fair. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org