The Park District of Park plays a vital role in enhancing people’s lives, building strong families and a more connected community. We protect and preserve our environment and positively impact our local economy. The following information outlines the important role the Park District of Oak Park plays in our community and the many benefits of parks and recreation enjoyed by our residents.

Special Recreation Programs

The Board recognizes the need to provide quality recreation for special populations that live within the District utilizing the financial resources available. The District participates as a member of the West Suburban Special Recreation Association to work in cooperation with its partner districts to make certain that professional consideration and inclusion is accomplished in accommodating all residents with a disability. District participation in this association ensures that it meets its responsibilities through a cooperative special recreation association where such is more economical or viable than an “in-District” program.

A Board member is annually appointed by the Board to represent the District serving as a West Suburban Special Recreation Association Board member. The District will meet its financial obligations for the support of West Suburban Special Recreation Association primarily through a tax levy provided for this purpose. Payments of tax receipts will be forwarded to the Special Recreation Association in accordance with agreement between the West Suburban Special Recreation Association and the Park District.

Americans With Disabilities Act

The District acknowledges and supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (42U.S.C. 12131 “ADA”) and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of the District. The District will make all reasonable accommodations to facilitate community access and full participation by citizens.

The Board empowers the Executive Director of the District to designate an employee or employees to coordinate the District’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under ADA, including granting the authority to appoint a staff member to serve as the ADA Coordinator for the District.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires transition plans be developed for state and local governments and their departments. Title II addresses the requirements for all levels of state and local governments to plan and implement a process for removal of accessiblity barriers. Transition plans are both a planning tool and public document. 

Service Animals

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has amended Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with a final rule related to “service animals” (See § 35.136 Service Animals of the Revised Title II ADA Regulations). The DOJ has defined “service animals” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform a task that benefits an individual with a disability. The dog is not a pet since it has a specific job or task to perform. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as a service animal. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that assist a person related to their disability, including emotional support, are not considered a service animal. The rule has clarified that a person with a mental disability that uses a service animal is protected under the ADA. In addition, a miniature horse can be used as an alternative service animal but is subject to certain limitations.

Some examples of the tasks that a service dog can perform include but are not limited to:

  • Alerting a person with hearing impairments to sounds.
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for a person with a mobility impairment.
  • Assisting a person with mobility impairment with balance.
  • Guiding a person with a visual impairment.

It should be noted that there is presently no national standards related to the certification or training of a service animal. Many different organizations and individuals train service animals. Some but not all service animals can be recognized by several means:

  • Some but not all will wear a special collar or harness
  • Some but not all are licensed, certified and/or have identification papers.

There are only two questions that can be asked to determine if the dog with a person is a service animal.

  1. You may ask if the animal is a service animal required because of a disability.
  2. You may ask if the animal performs a specific task for the person.

No other questions about the person’s disability or additional comments are acceptable to ask under the ADA.

Service animals can be asked to be removed from an area or program in specific situations including:

  • The dog is barking.
  • The dog is growling.
  • The dog is not house broken.
  • The dog displays a vicious or aggressive behavior toward other people.
  • The dog acts disruptively such as jumping toward or running at other people.
  • The area is regulated by health rules that do not allow an animal to enter.

It should also be noted that a person cannot be charged additional fees because they are using a service animal.

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