Purpose and Mission
The Commission on Disabilities' mission is to foster equal access to community life and activities for people with disabilities. Through education and advocacy, the commission works to raise awareness about the needs and rights of people with disabilities and the importance of increased accessibility to programs, housing, and facilities in municipal and commercial buildings, and other public entities.
The Commission vigorously promotes adherence by the City of Newton, its businesses and citizens, to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the regulations of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, and all other related Federal and state laws and regulations that require access and/or prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.
The Commission provides advice on access issues to those requesting it whenever possible.
The Commission reviews applications from local residents for accessible parking spaces in residential neighborhoods and reports its findings to the City Traffic Council and the Aldermanic Public Safety and Transportation commission.
The Commission investigates complaints regarding access problems in local commercial establishments and then notifies the business in question if there is a violation of access regulations and request corrections.
The Commission meets each year with officials from the Department of Public Works concerning the need for improved snow removal from sidewalks and curb cuts and for more consistent care regarding sidewalk obstructions during demolition and construction projects.
The Commission makes recommendations for use of more than $150,000 each year in Community Development Block Grant funds for projects that remove architectural barriers and increase accessibility everywhere in the City. Since the beginning of the block grant program, the commission has recommended the expenditure of approximately three million dollars in access projects to benefit people with disabilities, and create a more welcoming environment in the City of Newton.
Members shall be persons interested in promoting the mission outlined above and include residents, representatives of organizations, businesses and institutions which are based in Newton and serve the need of Newton residents. Such interested persons are urged to attend 2 to 3 MCPD meetings and let the commission know if they are interested in becoming a member.
A majority of the members shall be people with disabilities and/or close relatives and/or guardians of those with disabilities. Members of the commission are volunteers and do not receive financial compensation for their service.
Commission members shall vote on a new member and send their recommendation to the Mayor. The Mayor appoints members for a term of three years.
The Commission encourages its members to undergo training by the Massachusetts Office on Disability to qualify them as access monitors to review access issues in public accommodations, municipal buildings and public facilities, parks, and playgrounds.
Number, Appointment, Term, and Removal
The MCPD shall consist of between 9 and 15 members appointed by the Mayor. Members shall serve for a term of three (3) years. Members may serve three terms and step off the commission for a minimum of one (1) year before applying to serve again. A member may resign by delivering his or her written resignation to one of the MCPD co-chairs. Such resignation shall be effective immediately.
The Nominating commission shall periodically review the active participation of its membership. Members who have attended fewer than four monthly MCPD meetings over any twelve month period shall be contacted by one of the MCPD co-chairs or other person designated by the Co-chairs regarding their interest in continuing as members. Members whose attendance continues to fall below that level for a second year shall be asked by the MCPD Co-chairs to tender a letter of resignation.
Nominating commission, Chair and Vice Chair, or Co-Chairs, Elections
The Nominating Commission (NC) shall be comprised of 2 to 3 commission members and shall communicate with members to determine interest of members in serving as Chair and Vice Chair, or Co-Chairs. The NC will present their findings to the commission and facilitate the election process. Elections for the Chair and Vice Chair, or Co-Chairs shall be held in January. The Chair and Vice Chair, or Co-Chairs shall serve a term of one (1) year and may be re-elected by the commission members to serve further terms.
The Chair and Vice Chair, or Co-Chairs are elected by the members of the commission following the Nominating commission process. The Chair and Vice Chair, or Co-chairs will either rotate the facilitation of the MCPD meetings or determine if one person has a preference to this task. The person facilitating the meetings will adhere in general to Robert's Rules of Order, and run the meeting in a respectful manner such that all commission members are encouraged to participate. The person running the meeting shall reserve his/her comments until the end of the discussion.
He/she/they shall represent the commission at other meetings or designate another commission member to do so. He/she/they shall write letters as determined by the commission or designate another commission member to do so. He/she/they can be a member of a sub-commission but should allow another member to chair it in order to promote leadership.
At every regular or special meeting of the MCPD, each member shall be entitled to one (1) vote on each matter submitted for a vote of the MCPD, unless voting would be in violation of conflict of interest laws. Members must be present to vote, or may submit their vote in writing, including via e-mail, in advance of the matter if the matter being scheduled for a vote has been previously discussed at a commission meeting.
Meetings and Minutes
The MCPD shall meet monthly unless there is no scheduled business for that month. Not with standing this, the MCPD shall hold no fewer than eight (8) regular meetings per year.
Minutes shall be kept of each meeting. Minutes of meetings shall contain date, place, members, present and member absent, actions taken and identification of the person taking minutes. Minutes shall be forward to MCPD members for review at least five (5) business days prior to the next scheduled meeting.
Recommendations or other decisions in the name of the MCPD shall be made only when a quorum (a majority of the current members) is in attendance and eligible to vote. Whenever possible, recommendations and decisions shall be made by consensus. Such actions shall be reflected in the meeting minutes, and shall be conveyed in writing to the intended recipient official or agency if one is so mentioned.
There shall be no regular or special meeting of the MCPD unless notice has been give to the public at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of said meeting, in accordance with the General Laws of the Commonwealth.
The MCPD shall have sub-commissions which work, as needed, toward its goal of enhancing accessibility in the City, including but not limited to:
- Public Education
- Public Works (Snow, etc.)
The sub-commissions will meet on an as-needed basis. Other commissions may be created as needed. Sub-commission chairs are appointed by the MCPD Chair/Co-Chair with consensus from commission members.
Conflict of Interest and Open Meeting Laws.
All activities of the MCPD and its members shall be in compliance with the letter and spirit of the Open Meeting Law (23B of Ch. 39, MGL) and conflict of interest laws (e.g. Ch 268A, MGL) A member must disclose to the MCPD any conflict of interest in any matter being considered by the MCPD and shall not participate in any manner in the proceedings dealing with that matter except as may be permitted by law.
Adoption of this statement shall be by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the MCPD members. Any part or all of this statement may be altered, amended or repealed by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the MCPD members present at a regular or special meeting of the MCPD duly called for that purpose, provided that notice for such meeting was mailed to the MCPD no less than five (5) business days before such meeting.
This document was adopted by the MCPD on March 17, 2008
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Planning Department 1000 Commonwealth Ave. Newton, MA 02459 617-796-1125