Lawrence city commissioners planted a seed Tuesday for a plan allowing people with disabilities to wheel down stretches of downtown and other popular areas without hitting a high curb or other obstacles.
Under the plan, the city would devote $5,000 to $10,000 a year to build wheelchair ramps or remove barriers dangerous to people with disabilities in high-traffic areas.
"This would be for a continuous accessible route so there would be five or six blocks in key spots so you wouldn't have to move your car to get someplace," said Bob Mikesic, an advocacy coordinator for Independence Inc., an independent learning center and advocate for the disabled.
A city policy for accessible corridors was a recommendation in a 47-page report commisssioners received Tuesday on the city's progress in meeting requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mikesic served on the task force that helped develop the report. Commissioners cottoned to the idea.
"I'D LIKE to express our interest . . . in trying each year to come up with a logical sequence of areas where this is needed," said Commissioner Bob Schumm.
"Now may be a good time to start planning that, and maybe we can get the work done in the next construction season," he said.
Commissioners asked Mikesic to plot key spots in Lawrence that needed to be more accessible.
Mikesic said he envisioned long corridors downtown and around other major arteries in Lawrence, such as Iowa, Sixth and 23rd streets.
Access to the same high-traffic areas that other residents enjoy is important to people with disabilities, Mikesic said.
"That's one of the key things that people ask (Independence Inc.) when they move here: `How accessible is the downtown, the entertainment areas?'" he said.
ALTHOUGH PARKING for the disabled exists on New Hampshire and Vermont streets, people in wheelchairs headed for Massachusetts Street sometimes run into alleys without ramps, Mikesic said.
In addition, some existing ramps on Massachusetts were built to out-of-date standards and are a little tight for today's wheelchairs.
"That would be a second priority," Mikesic said.
The city currently installs new ramps when repairing existing curbs. Under the new plan, the city would take a more proactive approach.
The ADA report suggested the city pay the $5,000 to $10,000 needed with funds set aside for the city's overlay and curb repair program.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said the city could pay for new ramps and other improvements downtown with money from parking meters.
Commissioners praised the accessibility report, which found that the city needed only minor building improvements to comply with the ADA.
"All of the recommendations in the plan have either been implemented or are on their way," said Tammy Bannister, city management assistant.
IN OTHER action Tuesday:
In a single motion, commissioners approved the following consent agenda items:
Minutes of the previous commission meeting and several city organization meetings.
Payment of city expenses.
A class B club license for Louise's West, 1307 W. Seventh.
A drinking establishment license for King Arthur's Inc., 2228 Iowa.
Awarding a $146,895 contract to LRM Industries Inc. to install storm sewers and prepare the ground for future construction at 19th Street and Moodie Road.
Setting a bid date of 2 p.m. Sept. 8 for runway repair and replacement of runway lighting at Lawrence Municipal Airport.
An ordinance on final reading approving, adopting and authorizing the city to make commitments to spend money from the 1993 city budget.
An ordinance on final reading authorizing issuance of $3.5 million in industrial revenue bonds for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and a 50 percent tax abatement on improvements.
An ordinance on first reading authorizing issuance of $4 million in industrial revenue bonds for Packer Plastics Inc. and a 50 percent tax abatement on the improvements.
A resolution authorizing the city to issue $178,500 in major trafficway improvement bonds to create left-turn lanes and install a traffic signal at 33rd and Iowa. In addition, commissioners set a bid date of 2 p.m. Sept. 8 for the project.
A recommendation from the Traffic Safety Commission to install stop signs on Lonetree Drive and Shoal Lane at Riverridge Road.
An amendment to the 1992 Community Development Block Grant final statement reallocating $70,000 from the Comprehensive Deferred Rehabilitation Program to a community homebuyers' program. Designed by six local lenders, the homebuyers' program would help low- and moderate-income residents pay for a downpayment and closing costs for a new home.
An application from the Lawrence Housing Authority for 50 additional Section 8 certificates to assist low-income families with paying their rents.
A request from the Oread Neighborhood Assn. to erect "Welcome to the Oread Neighborhood" signs in residents' yards between Friday and Aug. 30.
On the regular agenda, commissioners:
Conducted a public hearing on assessing affected property owners for the following benefit district projects performed by the city: sanitary sewers for Stone Meadows West No. 3, $50,107; streets, sidewalks and storm sewers for Stone Meadows West No. 2, $87,495; streets, sidewalks and storm sewers on Harper Street, $94,896; streets, sidewalks and storm sewers for Tiffany Addition No. 2, $79,695. Commissioners adopted four ordinances on first reading approving the assesments.
Approved a sign variance for an area marker at College Hill Condominiums, 927 Emery Rd.