Archive for Tuesday, June 16, 1992

LIBRARY ACCESS QUESTION GOES UNRESOLVED

June 16, 1992

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— Stumped by a stoop, the Baldwin City Council on Monday debated options for providing a second wheelchair-accessible entrance to the city's new library.

Because of a design flaw, a stoop at the north entrance cuts into the path of a sidewalk, and adding a wheelchair ramp would further impede sidewalk traffic, the council agreed.

However, Independence Inc., a Lawrence independent living center and advocate for integrated and accessible community facilities, recently reviewed the blueprints for the building. It advised that the north door was the most advantageous for a wheelchair-accessible entrance.

Independence Inc. officials said the library would need two wheelchair-accessible entrances to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The city library currently has only one.

IN APRIL 1991, Baldwin voters approved a $350,000 bond issue and a half-cent sales tax increase to finance construction of the building, which is near completion at Seventh and High.

Council members decided at their June 1 meeting to extend the north stoop and add a wheelchair ramp and railing. But Marilyn Pearse, councilwoman, said Monday the city shouldn't have to foot the bill for changes to the building that should have been incorporated in the original plans.

"We as a city should be obligated to pay for the original design," she said. "It's ridiculous to think we have to change the way the building is being built in the middle of it. That's outrageous."

Gary Walbridge also expressed concern that the north stoop already endangers pedestrians and bicyclists on the heavily trafficked sidewalk. "Whatever they do to the north exit would just make it worse," he said.

ALLEN CRAIG, Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department chief, added the north entrance would be inaccessible when the library's community room was in use after the library had closed.

The council discussed the feasibility of adding a wheelchair-accessible entrance at the south door. The city would need to build a sidewalk from the door, which exits from a hallway leading to the community room, and construct an east-west sidewalk. Bill Winegar, director of public works, estimated the cost for the project at about $500.

Jim Tarwater, city building inspector, said clear routes to the south door would have to be established and couldn't be blocked at any time during the library's operating hours. If the north stoop was cut back to provide a clear path on the sidewalk, the door would have to be marked as an emergency exit only, he said.

Council members asked the library board to seek bids for the south work and report to the council next week.

IN OTHER business, the council:

Approved the low bid of $349,793 from BRB Construction, Topeka, for work on a citywide sewer system upgrade. Jim Fisher, of BG Consultants, the Lawrence company that designed the project, said work could get started by the end of the month.

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