- This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131 - 12134, with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section (Department), against Natchez, Mississippi ("City"). The complaint alleges that the services, programs, and activities provided by the County in the Convention Center and Visitors' Bureau and the George W. Armstrong Library are inaccessible to persons with mobility impairments. In addition, the Natchez Intermodal Visitors' Center, which is under construction, has certain elements that do not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design ("Standards") 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, Appendix A. Pursuant to the provision of the ADA entitled "Alternative Means of Dispute Resolution," 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12212, the parties have entered into this Settlement Agreement.
- The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the compliance of the City with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing title II regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12133 to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter.
- The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the City. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of further investigation and possible litigation, the parties hereby agree as follows:
- The City owns and operates the existing Convention Center and Visitors' Bureau, the George W. Armstrong Library, and the Natchez Intermodal Visitors' Center, which is currently under construction.
- The services, programs, and activities provided by the City in the Library are not readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments because there is no accessible entrance to the Library. The current Convention Center and Visitors' Bureau has an inaccessible entrance, but the City has provided an alternative method for accessing the tourist information service, and is moving this service to the new Intermodal Visitors' Center currently under construction.
- The ADA applies to the City because it is a public entity as defined in 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131.
- Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability, in the services, programs, or activities of a public entity such as the City.
- Under the ADA, the services, programs, and activities provided in the City buildings, when viewed in their entirety, must be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
- The subject of this Settlement Agreement is the provision of access to the services, programs, and activities provided in the George W. Armstrong Library, and the new construction of the Natchez Intermodal Visitors' Center.
- Within 30 days of the last signature on this document, the City will take the lead with Adams County to provide an accessible entrance at the George W. Armstrong Library that will comply fully with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards). See ï½§ï½§ 4.1.3(8)(a), (b), (c), and (d). If the city is unable to effect this change, the Department will require the county to provide an accessible entrance including a van accessible parking space.
- The City will construct the Natchez Intermodal Visitors' Center so that it complies with the Standards by taking steps including, but not limited to the following:
- Provide at least one "van accessible" parking space for every eight accessible spaces, but not less than one See ï½§ï½§ 4.1.2(5)(b) and 4.6.4.
- Remove the telephone shelf in the lobby so that it is not a "protruding object" in accordance with ï½§ï½§ 4.1.3(2) and 4.4.
- Provide one fixed companion seating next to each wheelchair seating location in the theater in accordance with ï½§ï½§ 4.1.3(19) and 4.33.3.
- Provide a 36" wide toilet stall in the women's multi-user restroom with a stall door having a clear opening width of 32" in accordance with ï½§ï½§ 4.22.4. and 4.22.2.
Implementation and Enforcement of the Agreement
- If at any time the City desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it shall promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification shall not take effect. Such agreement shall not unreasonably be withheld.
- In the event that the City fails to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department of Justice as a temporary modification of the relevant terms of this Agreement, all terms of this Agreement shall become enforceable in an appropriate Federal court.
- The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If it determines that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement or enforcement of the requirements of title II of the ADA in an appropriate Federal court.
- Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department of Justice's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- This document is a public agreement. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person by the City or the Department on request.
- The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
- This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written agreement, shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the City's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
For the City:
Walter Brown, Esq.
For the United States:
Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights
Lucille K. Johansen
John L. Wodatch, Esq.
L. Irene Bowen, Esq.
Eve L. Hill, Esq.
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738