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      City of Bridges to become more handicap accessible

      Ottumwa's Parks and Public Buildings will soon have new handicap accessible amenities which will put the city in compliance with the Americans with Disabilties Act.

      The city hired a company called "Recreation Accessibility Consultants" based in Illinois to conduct an audit.

      City officials got the results of the audit this week.

      Parks and Recreation Director Gene Rathje says the company came up with a 14-year compliance schedule.

      He says this is an unfunded federal mandate, so the city will have to complete a series of bond issues to pay for the improvements.

      City officials are now meeting to discuss phasing in the most visible areas first.

      ??This will allow people in wheelchairs, for example, to access all the city's public buildings, parks, the Beach, whatever buildings the city has, and this will also benefit residents in general, forcing us to make improvements in existing facilities, so that everyone will have better access to them,?? said Rathje.

      Rathje also told us the projects will have to be put into the budget first, but he anticipates work to get started by next spring.