Advocates for the move to JLE maintain that making City Hall ADA compliant is cost prohibitive. At the September Common Council meeting, Council president Tom DePietro stated that the "rough estimate" for doing so was more than $3 million. On her Facebook page this morning, Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann asserted that the City's historic buildings are "outrageously expensive to upgrade." It's a convenient argument, but it's not entirely true.
The feasibility study done on City Hall by Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson, the same architectural firm that is doing the feasibility study on JLE, yielded four possible plans for making the building ADA compliant. Three of the plans would provide access to the main floor, where all city business takes place--attending meetings, making tax payments and water and sewer payments, visiting the assessor, securing and renewing licences. The fourth plan, which is the expensive one, is a complete renovation and redesign of the building, with an extension at the rear that would house an elevator. Here are the four plans and the estimated cost associated with each.
Plan 1 $278,000
This plan involves the creation of accessible parking spaces on Warren Street and Prison Alley, a lift at the main entrance, a sloped walk along the west side of the building, modifications to the door on the west side, the creation of an accessible rest room, and modifications to the Council Chamber.
Plan 2 $262,000
Plan 2 is basically the same as Plan 1 except instead of a lift at the main entrance there would be a ramp in front of the building, which would take up much of the sidewalk.
Plan 3 $131,000
Plan 3--the least expensive solution--involves installing a lift at the side door on Warren Street, the doorway that now gives access to the upstairs offices of the mayor, the mayor's aide, Council president, and the Department of Public Works.
Plan 4 $3,143,000
This is the expensive one. It would provide universal access to the entire building and create a City Hall, in a city known for its historic architecture, that would definitely inspire civic pride. With Plan 4, there would be an addition at the back of the building, with an elevator, giving access to all floors, including the basement storage area. The building would be completely accessible from both Warren Street and Prison Alley. There would be additional office space and an improved Council Chamber. Perhaps the best thing, the atrium that was part of the interior design of the original bank building would be opened up once again, and the glorious stained glass laylight, which no one who hasn't had reason to visit the Department of Public Works map room has ever seen, will be visible from the main floor.
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