Lawsuit raises doubts about Colorado Springs' commitment to comply with access laws

Wounded Warrior Chris Sweeney gets a kiss from his wife, Nikole, in 2014. after cycling 25 miles with a Soldier Ride. About 50 Wounded Warrior Project cyclists have been participating in a four-day cycling event in the Pikes Peak Region called Soldier Ride. The cyclists make it up the last hill after a 25-mile ride near Falcon on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The Soldier Rides are held in communities around the country. The Wounded Warrior Project serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound during military service on or after 9/11. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)Colorado Springs will pay the Sweeneys $19,000 to settle a suit they filed this year claiming systemic noncompliance with federally required accessibility standards.

Colorado Springs will pay a disabled veteran and his wife $19,000 to settle a lawsuit they filed in February claiming systemic noncompliance with federally required accessibility standards.

The lawsuit was filed by Stetson Hills residents Chris and Nikole Sweeney. Diversified Property Management and the Stetson Hills Master Home Owners Association were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The couple claimed that their neighborhood has lacked ramps and sidewalks necessary to reach public accommodations for years. Chris Sweeney has been in a wheelchair since being struck twice by lightning, once while on duty in the Air Force.

The city admitted no liability or wrongdoing in the settlement, according to a release from Colorado Springs spokeswoman Jamie Fabos. Aside from the payment to the Sweeneys, the city agreed to hold quarterly town halls for residents to discuss issues and concerns relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Colorado Springs officials will also seek public comments for the city’s transition plan, which is under development and is meant to identify obstacles that might limit accessibility to city programs, buildings or activities, the release said.

The Sweeneys’ Denver attorney, Julian G.G. Wolfson, declined to comment.

While the city’s portion of the lawsuit is now complete, the remaining defendants are still involved in the litigation. @conrad_swanson

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