Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stimulating Their Friends

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) seems like a very supportable idea. The goal is to eliminate the barriers which handicapped people encounter in everyday life.That's why we see curb-cuts at street corners, hear bells counting down time to cross at intersections, feel Braille nubs on elevator control panels. But when does reasonable get surpassed by outrageous? How about Braille buttons on a drive-up ATM?

Here's our trusty DOJ making America safe for democracy by making more people criminals and affixing a Damoclean sword over thousands more heads.

Fixed Lifts For Water Features Mandated For Schools

About twenty years ago when I was on the Board of Trustees of the Pikes Peak Library District we had an historic Carnegie library in Old Colorado City. The branch was in a congested but historic district and was always difficult to access because of parking in the area. When two dilapidated houses next to the library became available we learned that we could buy them both for about $80k  and raze them to clear a parking lot. Total cost with paving, driveway and area lighting for night was about $150,000. It seemed like a bargain to deal with the problem.

To ease access the architect proposed a new door in the side of the library to provide direct entry from the parking lot.This was preferable to walking to the front and climbing the Greco-Roman stairway to the columned entry. That was until we got the word from the lawyers on ADA compliance.

You see the doorway was a modification to the existing structure. An existing public structure was exempt from ADA until ANY modification is made. At that time the building must be brought into full compliance.

That meant that the parking lot door needed to be supplemented by a proper grade wheelchair ramp.The doorway must be wide enough for access. The bathrooms throughout the building must all be modified for handicapped access.The 1890's wrought iron circular staircase to the lower level needed to be augmented by an elevator.The doors, light switches, computer desks, etc. all needed to be modified to ADA standard.

And suddenly the very affordable parking lot morphed into a half-million dollar major construction project.

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