BEND, OR -- Bend City officials say crews made extensive improvements to accessibility during this year’s construction season, with work on 215 curb ramps. It’s part of an ongoing effort to comply with federal handicap accessibility guidelines.
But, Brian Douglass with the Make Bend Accessible Coalition, says there are still more than 5,00 that still need to be done. "The city does not know, and neither do we, how many other curbs and ramps that have been built since 1992 need to be renovated, repaired or rehabbed. So, that 5,843 number is pretty fluid." And, Douglass tells KBND News, "At the rate of a couple of hundred or 215 or so a year, it’s going to take about 27 years, by my calculation, to catch up."
Last week, Douglass gave Bend City Councilors a list of funding options to speed up the work. "We’ve given them a buffet table of half a dozen ideas. From there, they’re going to be working on the amount that would come from each one of those possibilities. And, that’s how we would propose to take care of this particular issue of accessibility," Douglass tells KBND News. His options include potential taxes on food and beverages, cannabis or E-cigarette sales. "What we’ve proposed is a series of potential funding sources, which we believe any combination of would probably provide the revenue stream. And, those taxes and fees on those items do need to be approved by the public."
Douglass acknowledges, even under the best circumstances, it would take five to ten years to construct or repair all of the necessary curbs and sidewalks.