North Franklin Township building has costly ADA issues

  • By Scott Beveridge October 1, 2013
North Franklin Township supervisors are considering costly projects to either renovate or replace the township building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. - Scott Beveridge/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The main electrical service panel to the aging North Franklin Township building is located next to a bathroom toilet, making it one of several building code problems cited in an architectural report on the brick structure.

Worse yet, there is a raised threshold at the restroom door that, among other issues, makes the public building out of compliance with the federal Americans with Disability Act, the report by RSSC Architecture of Wexford indicates.

“As the estimated cost of repairs and modifications is approaching 50 percent of the replacement cost of the building, we would recommend that the township consider the feasibility of replacing the existing structure with a new building on a new site,” the report states.

The June 26 architectural inspection followed a complaint about wheelchair access to the building raised by Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living in Washington, which advocates for the civil rights of those with disabilities.

Township supervising Chairman Alex Migyanko said he appointed a committee to review the RSSC report and make recommendations as to whether the township should spend $372,940 to renovate the building to meet ADA requirements or nearly $800,000 to construct a new municipal building. Migyanko said he will schedule a public meeting after the committee forms an opinion.

The building dates to 1962, nearly 30 years before the ADA was passed requiring existing public buildings be modified for easy access for the disabled or municipalities to relocate services to buildings that meet the requirements.

The North Franklin building isn’t accessible from the parking lot to the administrative offices or police department. It needs properly positioned drinking fountains and doors with the correct width and hardware, as well as a counter at the right height for transactions.

In addition, portions of the building flood during heavy rain and there is ponding on the flat roof, which also has shingles in need of replacement. Meanwhile, council chambers exceeds the occupancy load for a room with just one door, the RSSC report states.

TRIPIL’s compliance specialist, Joe Snyder, said North Franklin is cooperating in the case, and trying to figure out the best solutions to the problems.

“They are working with me,” Snyder said.

Scott Beveridge has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1986 after previously working at the Daily Herald in Monongahela. He is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s fine arts and art education programs and Duquesne University’s master of liberal arts program. He is a 2004 World Affairs journalism fellow.


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