Letter to the Editor: Handicap Accessibility – Commissioners Respond

Paulding CourthouseThe Paulding County Commissioners are taking such good care of our beautiful historic county courthouse, but issues still remain. This January a freshly painted handicap parking space was noted at the North entrance of the courthouse.
While conducting business, and upon walking the corridors, I came the realization that NO entrance to the courthouse was handicap-accessible. Who that is handicapped or aged, are able to gain entrance to this building?

The steps are steep and there are many of them. Was the issue of handicap accessibility addressed by those in charge at any time, before or during the most recent construction? Did anyone consider this issue, when the entrances were refurbished, that perhaps one side of one entrance could include a ramp?

What about an elevator to access all floors? Why hasn’t one been installed, for inside and/or outside access, into this public building? A disabled/aged person would not be confronted with having to surmount the obstacle of steep steps. Those persons, whom require a wheelchair, could possibly utilize a power lift, or be pushed up with help from an assistant, but that still leaves the aged without access. Are there other public buildings that are inaccessible? Shouldn’t the disabled or aged have the entitlement to enter all buildings too? Is Paulding County in compliance with the ADA act?
How much longer will these issues be on the back burner? It is hoped that a resolution can be achieved with regard to this issue, in the near future. What are the answers; can those in charge enlighten the citizens of Paulding County?
Concerned citizens of Paulding County,
—Karen Sanders,
Susie Gillen Cole,
Ray Keck

Response from the Paulding County Commissioners:

The Commissioners Office understands and appreciates the concerns expressed in the most recent letter to the editor. A feasibility study was completed by Poggemeyer Design Group in 1994 for the installation of an elevator and an exterior ramp to the Court House. The study concluded that the addition of an elevator would be best placed on the west side exterior of the building. This in turn would cause other structural issues along with degrading the appearance of the building. The study also concluded that a ramp to the ground floor would have to extend 54 feet out either the north or south sides of the building. This ramp would only allow access to the ground floor offices without the installation of an elevator.

Because the installation of an elevator would cause additional issues with the building and affect the historical appearance, it was decided to address the accessibility in a different route. Without breaking any Federal and State laws, anyone needing service through one of the Courts can receive said service at the County Annex Building. The County Annex is completely handicap accessible. The other offices have adopted a policy of curbside service.

If any individual is unable to gain access to the court house and wants to do business there, they can call any of the offices and a representative from that office will meet them at the curb to serve their needs. This practice has been in place since the feasibility study was completed. As far as the new handicap parking places, we also recognize that handicaps can be in different degrees of severity. We would hope that the additional spaces help those with less severe handicaps conduct business within the courthouse on their own.

Respectfully submitted,

Paulding County Commissioners

Roy Klophenstein

Tony Zartman

Mark Holtsberry