The City of South Burlington recently received a $15,000 grant from the Secretary of State’s office to improve voting access at City Hall for individuals with disabilities.
City Clerk Donna Kinville was instrumental in “identifying the funding source and preparing and submitting the grant application, with City Council approval,” according to City Council Chair Sandra Dooley.
The money will go toward installing a new front door for City Hall that meets the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements, including a fully-actuated button to open the doors automatically. Installation cost of such a door is $31,000.
However, as Director of Public Works, Justin Rabidoux, pointed out in a memo to the City Council, “During the project’s conceptual design, two additional improvements were identified that would increase the functionality of City Hall.” Rabidoux named sigange and the removal of the black mold growth on the outside of City Hall as priorities. These additional items bring the total project bill to $48,300, however the grant money defrays approximately one-third of the cost, leaving a remainder of $33,300 for the City to cover.
According to Councilor Dooley, the City Council authorized $35,000 to cover the anticipated cost of the work. This money comes from a “$36,000 savings from lower-than-anticipated debt-service payments,” Dooley said.
Construction on the project does not yet have a “firm schedule in terms of a contractor signed to begin work,” Rabidoux told The Other Paper, “however our goal remains to get the work completed this calendar year.”
Councilor Dooley stresses, though, that the approval of additional funds is not an official endorsement on the City Council’s part for continued use of the building located at 575 Dorset Street. “This decision,” said Dooley, “should not be seen as a decision on the Council’s part regarding long range plans for the location of City Hall. That is a subject requiring community-wide participation and input before any decision is made.”
Nevertheless, Dooley is pleased with the grant and the resulting projects which she says “will play a large part in making City Hall more accessible to all City residents and taxpayers.” Indicating the sandbags that currently line the foundation level of the building along the walls, she said that she “expects that folks visiting City Hall have not been pleased to see them,” but points out that they are “regrettably” necessary.
“We want City Hall to be a pleasant place for visitors as well as everyone who works there. I see these improvements as essential to achieving this standard,” Dooley said.
SOURCE: Annalisa C. Parent, Correspondent