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Brian Muller's father is 91 years old. He uses a cane and has a disability sticker on his license plate. Because of his age, he has some limitations, Muller said.
Although his father doesn't live in Highlands Ranch, Muller was making a point about the demographics of the community and the services offered.
“Folks with disabilities are part of our community,” said Muller, park planning and facilities manager at the Highlands Ranch Metro District. “Everybody needs to have the same opportunity to access all of our facilities.”
To address the needs of individuals with disabilities, the metro district is carrying out a facilities survey and transition plan.
Last fall, the metro district contracted a consultant to determine if its 25 parks are in compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which outlines mandatory regulations issued by the Department of Justice.
In October, the consultant presented a report of its findings, along with a plan for the next several years, to the metro district board of directors. The board approved the plan at a cost of $762,860, funded by the metro district's major repair fund and conservation trust fund. That number will likely increase as time progresses, Muller said.
“It's going to take several years,” he said. “We have to be realistic with our budget.”
The top three priorities are entries to the parks — including parking, curb ramps and walking surfaces — playgrounds and restrooms. Any construction work will close down a portion of a park, said Muller, adding that the metro district will try to complete playground improvements during the winter.
Some of the community's older and larger parks, like Redstone, 3280 Redstone Park Circle, require more upgrades than others, Muller said. This spring, the metro district will begin a $150,000 renovation to the park's restroom.
“It's 50 acres versus seven to 10 acres in a neighborhood park,” said Muller. “Because it offers so many more services, naturally it's going to mean that it needs more upgrades.”
Upcoming projects in the next two years include improvements to the parking lot of Northridge Park, the skate area of Tanks Skate Park and the playgrounds of Foothills, Dad Clark and Cougar Run parks.
Residents can give input on the plan until March 19 at highlandsranch.org/ada-transition-plan.
“All of us have a disability of some sort. As you get older, it gets harder to see and walk,” said Muller. “When you think of it in those regards, it's not just people in wheelchairs. All of us at some point in time will need these accommodations.”
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