Jim Windsor has two adult daughters with disabilities, neither of whom qualifies as a family member under the five-person Activity and Recreation Center Family Group Membership. Under current membership rules, Windsor must pay an additional $25 annually for each of his daughters. He said he and his family are not ARC members because of additional costs and an implicit lack of attention to people with disabilities.
“The Parks Department didn’t do its homework when setting up rules,” Windsor said. “People with disabilities are overlooked in situations like this.”
The Columbia City Council will address ARC accessibility for disabled adults at its meeting tonight thanks to Windsor, who has been working to make rights for disabled people a higher priority for the city.
Windsor, a six-year member of the Boone County Group Home and Family Support Board during the 1990s, first approached the Parks and Recreation Department when the ARC opened a year ago. He dropped the issue because the department was already inundated with complaints about ARC prices, but he reopened it earlier this year by contacting Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Loveless. “Excluding dependent adults from family membership is not what we had intended,” Loveless said. “We arrived at definitions of family based upon a complete lack of any experience.”
The council will review a proposal made by the Parks and Recreation Department in response to Windsor’s call. New rules would allow families to include dependent adults within the Family Group Membership plan without paying extra fees.
“A family member could be an older parent or adult child, anyone claimed as a dependent on your income tax,” said Gary Ristow, Parks and Recreation Department recreation and services manager.
To qualify for the five-person Family Group Membership, families would have to prove that additional adults meet all five IRS income-tax dependency tests and bring in a copy of their tax forms.
The ARC allows a family of up to two parents and three children to receive an annual pass for $495. Adults between the ages of 18 and 25 count as children if they are enrolled in school full time.
Loveless hopes that the proposal will provide an opportunity for the council to re-evaluate the price of ARC membership for everybody, not just adults with disabilities.
“I think this is a good time to take a look at the whole business of fees to make the ARC accessible at a price that most people can afford,” Loveless said. “After a year of operation, it’s time to examine if fees can be lowered and we can still break even.”
Also at tonight’s meeting, the council will vote on extending the moratorium on the demolition of buildings in downtown and hold public hearings on replacing water mains at a cost of more than $350,000. The council meets at 7 p.m. in council chambers on the fourth floor of the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.