CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Dec. 1, 2000
Law students help design Hickory Hill Park accessibility options
IOWA CITY -- Student interns from the Legal Clinic Program at the University
of Iowa are hopeful that their alliance with the Johnson County Coalition
for Persons with Disabilities on the Hickory Hill Park Trail Plan will result
in the city making all of its parks accessible.
This Saturday, third-year law students Allison Bliss and Matthew Scoll,
and architectural consultants Dunbar/Jones of Des Moines will meet for their
first joint walk-through of the park, an event Bliss hopes will also show
the consultants the park's uniqueness. The tour also involves the Coalition,
the Friends of Hickory Hill, and other interested persons and is being held
now to highlight some of the community's concerns about changes to the park.
Bliss and Scoll succeed law students Jamie Bachtell and Glen Houghtaling
as Clinic interns who during the past year worked with the Coalition to develop
plans, improvement guidelines, and a priority list of changes that need to
be made to make the park more accessible to persons with disabilities.
Scoll says the Clinic has played an instrumental role in its representation
of the Coalition, and says he, Bliss, and Len Sandler, clinical law professor
who supervises the students' work, served as advisors, and answered questions
about the Americans with Disabilities Act and Access Board recommendations.
"One of our goals has been to empower the Coalition to achieve its
goal and to push forward changes that would maintain the park's natural beauty
while improving accessibility.
"Such changes hinge on the width and composition of park trails. Six-foot-wide,
crushed limestone trails throughout the park would go a long way toward achieving
the Coalition's goal, Scoll said.
The Coalition has proposed to the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission
that a trail be developed in the Upper Park and that benches and cement pads
be installed offering persons using mobility devices opportunities to experience
the park's overall views. The Coalition has also suggested that an accessible
path be developed in the Lower Park and that a looped trail be established
to connect First Avenue park trail with Hickory Hill Park.
The students at the Legal Clinic partnered with the Coalition after having
conducted public surveys and audits of the park, suggested to the Iowa City
Parks and Recreation Commission, improvements in parking, bench seating, overlooks
and other features viewed as accessibility barriers. The changes were suggested
based on research of ADA law and ADA Accessibility Guidelines. Many of those
proposed changes have already been integrated into the park plans revised
by Dunbar/Jones this month.
The high-charged energy that might have led the two park interest groups
to be divided initially, has abated, Bliss says, and been replaced with what
she and Scoll believe is a near agreement on park changes that would allow
the entire community to enjoy the park's beauty.
"Things are in the fine tuning stages, and although some issues remain
unsettled, such as should the trails be pedestrian or multi-use trails,"
Scoll said. He said he believes all of the proposed changes can be done within
the $500,000 in funding allocated to the park improvement project.
Len Sandler, clinical professor of law, has supervised the students' work
on the project.
For more information on the students' role in the Hickory Hill Park project,
or to view accessibility surveys and audits of the park, contact Bliss, Scoll,
Bachtell or Houghtaling at the UI Legal Clinic at (319) 335-9023.