NEWS

Antrim may remodel without accomodating disabled

PAT FRIDGEN

The three Antrim Township supervisors present for last Thursday's worksession decided to put $350,000 into the 2010 budget to upgrade the municipal building, but want to avoid bringing it into Americans With Disabilities Act compliance. Chairman Curtis Myers, Fred Young III and Rick Baer discussed potential requirements relating to the ADA of 1990. The meeting, traditionally held on a Tuesday, was moved to the later night and James Byers and Samuel Miller were unable to attend.

Administrator Brad Graham and roadmaster Paul Minnich had met with a contractor to look over the building. Graham said the man had stressed strongly that once renovations were underway, the township would have to follow ADA rules. He and Minnich were surprised how much the facility was outside the standards, such as the restrooms and a hall door that didn't open with a full swing.

Young wondered, "Why do we have to make this building ADA compliant? There's a lot we can do to this building without that." He noted fewer people would come in once the district justice office moved out in January.

Myers agreed. "How far can we go before we cross the threshold for that ADA c---?"

While Graham had upped an initial figure from $500,000 to $610,000 to include the price for hooking the facility to public sewer, the trio dropped that idea. The township currently pays a hauler $125 per week to pump its 950 gallon septic tank.

Myers suggested a limit of $250,000 on renovations, and once the money was spent, the work stopped. Minnich countered with $350,000, stating that figure could make "a beautiful building", including a new metal roof over the garage. Other projects included ceilings, carpet, moving walls and a new communication system.

Baer said that while the job would have to be done in phases, he didn't want to use temporary trailers for staff because of the expense for power, phone and computer services.

The supervisors also hope to find a way to do renovations without paying prevailing wage.

According to the U. S. Dept. of Justice, ADA was designed to give equal opportunity to individuals with disabilities in regard to public accomodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications. When alterations to a government building take place, the altered portions must be accessible. Enforcement is based on private parties filing lawsuits or entering complaints with eight federal agencies.

The park

The supervisors rejected the Park Committee recommendation to not allow the barn at Antrim Township Community Park to be used for storage. The committee had indicated the barn had unique features that could be destroyed if not intentionally cared for, and the long term plans for the old structure had not been determined. The committee wanted the barn analyzed for potential uses, which could include office space or a learning center. Baer said he understood their concern.

The three agreed that the maintenance department could store equipment in the bottom and doors would be added to secure the area.

"Just do it," said Young. "They (the committee) don't have to like it or agree with us. If they whine, we're the bad guys."

Though the board is still considering hiring someone to maintain the parks, it did set aside $75,000 for contracted mowing services should they go that route.

"There's a lot to mow and trim," Myers said. "There's all those stupid fence posts."

Minnich said it had taken two people two days to do trimming only at ATCP. "Two people fulltime will do a good job," he said of park maintenance.

Other budget talks

The township had been considering adding eye and dental coverage to the insurance benefits package. It would be in lieu of $1,500 reimbursement for expenses not paid by insurance, or for gym memberships. However, in questioning employees, most preferred to stick with the current plan so they could choose their own providers. The plan will stay the same next year but Young wanted the option reconsidered after that.

Graham also said he increased expenses for the Comprehensive Plan because the township was going to rezone.