[nfbmi-talk] Fw: so why not michigan?

David Robinson drob1946 at gmail.com
Thu May 28 23:46:02 UTC 2015

----- Original Message ----- 
From: joe harcz Comcast 
To: Sarah Gravetti MISILC DNM 
Cc: Norm DeLisle ; Gary Kidd TDN ; terry Eagle ; Mark Eagle ; David Robinson NFB MI ; Robin Jones ; Peter Berg ; Rodney Craig MISILC ; Darma Canter ; eleanor canter ; Susan Fitzmaurice ; Laura Hall ; Elmer Cerano MPAS ; DANIEL COOPER 
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:05 PM
Subject: so why not michigan?

Michigan's Capitol has gone through many renovations including recent ones and still has barriers. The ADA is 25 years old and the regulations have been clear. But in Michigan like other states they don't think the law applies to them and they think they've got exeptions which they don't and never have had.

It's disgusting that this goes on and on and on again.

Joe Harcz,

Idaho to spend $400K to bring renovated Capitol into compliance with ADA

Betsy Z. Russell

The Spokesman-Review

for free.


Betsy Z. Russell photo


Sloping, curving walkways, including this one, will have to be torn out and replaced as part of $400,000 in modifications to bring Idaho’s newly renovated

state capitol into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(Full-size photo)


BOISE – Five years after completing a three-year, $120 million renovation of its state capitol, Idaho is preparing to spend another $400,000 to bring the

building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act – after state officials wrongly assumed the historic structure was exempt.


“We were operating under the premise that we were not fully reconstructing the capitol building,” Jan Frew, state deputy public works administrator, told

lawmakers last week. “It’s a historic building, so we were utilizing many of the exemptions that are allowed for historic buildings.” Those included, for

example, making all programs in the building accessible, but not all doors and entrances.


But the U.S. Department of Justice received a complaint that the building renovation didn’t meet the law’s requirements, and after an extensive investigation,

negotiated 110 changes with state officials. Receiving a complaint, Frew said, “triggers them to come out and look at absolutely everything.”


The work will start this summer and be completed by July of 2017; it includes everything from adding wheelchair-accessible seating to the House and Senate

galleries, to installing signage throughout the building that includes Braille, to pouring new concrete ramps.


“When the Department of Justice became involved, their main interpretation was that if you’re spending $120 million, whether it’s new or existing, every

part of the capitol building should be accessible,” Frew said. “They didn’t think that the historic building exceptions should apply any more.”


She said, “We have gone back and forth on a number of issues. They have made some concessions, a few. And we, of course, want to make the building as accessible

as possible. So we have come to a compromise.”


That compromise includes removing some VIP seating from the House and Senate galleries to make room for the wheelchair-accessible spots, which means moving

a partial wall and relocating the big monitor of House votes so that it’ll be suspended from the ceiling; crafting new door pulls or levers that are accessible,

but are made to mimic the historic doorknobs they’ll replace; adding signs to direct people more easily to accessible routes, including accessible elevators;

and altering the east and west first-floor entrances to the capitol to include accessible ramps, rather than the current three steps up.


But perhaps the most controversial requirement is that Idaho tear out and replace two curved, sloping sidewalks that lead down to the new accessible, lower-level

south entrance that was added in the renovation – because they were found to be a half-percent off from cross-slope requirements.


Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who serves on the state Capitol Commission, said, “It was really frustrating to have to spend this much money, and I know the

capitol is so much more accessible than it used to be.” The renovation included adding underground wings with large new public hearing rooms, additional

elevators and more.


But Little said, “I guess we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. … We want to make darn sure that we’re OK.”


The cross-slope for the ramps is allowed to be at a maximum of 2 percent, but when federal officials inspected, they found it measured 2.5 percent. “The

design showed it as the 2 percent, and it has not settled,” Frew said. “It was basically put in incorrectly. However, we accepted it, and the time for

requiring the contractors to come back in is long past.”


In fact, the state had previously required contractors to tear out and re-do those same sections of sloping, curving sidewalk. “In good conscience, since

we accepted their work, we didn’t feel like we could go back to them and say, ‘Oh, by the way,’” Frew said.


Replacing just those sloping sidewalks and their handrails will cost about $50,000, Frew estimated.


“Oh my goodness,” responded Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls.


Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, asked Frew if there was “any way to appeal.” Frew responded that the state’s options were to work with the Department of Justice,

or the department would take the state to court, “and spend years fighting about what we could fix for about $400,000.”


Funding for the modifications will come from state endowment funds that are dedicated to maintenance of the state capitol.


Other modifications in the works include adding wheelchair-accessible seating in the Lincoln Auditorium, the new large public hearing room that was added

in the renovation. More minor changes include adjusting door-opening mechanisms and moving furniture that blocks accessibility.


A list of all 110 modifications, obtained under the Idaho Public Records Act, shows an estimated total cost of $388,075.


Lt. Gov. Little, who presides over the state Senate when it’s in session and formerly served there for four terms, said, “All said and done, (given) the

fact that we did that marvelous remodel on time and on budget, $400,000 is kind of a rounding error on a $120 million project.”


He added, “We are really lucky in Idaho. … We’re so blessed to have a working capitol, and it’s really a working capitol.”





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