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Handicap Access Ramp Eyed for M'burgh Village Hall

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 4/19/24 | 4/19/24

By David Avitabile

MIDDLEBURGH - Middleburgh Village officials have set a timeline for a project to make the village hall handicap accessible.

Village board members last Monday approved a contract with Delaware Engineering for $7,500 to help design a handicap accessible ramp on the side of the historic village hall.

The work could move rapidly this spring. Mayor Tim Knight said the project could go out to bid by May 3 and the bids may come back by June 5. The village board may hold a special meeting on June 11 to review and possibly vote on the bids.

The work is expected to cost $75,000 to $80,000. Once the actual cost is finalized, the village will decide on how to pay for the project. Village board members last week discussed whether to use $25,000 in savings to pay or bond out the entire cost. Board members agreed to have the village clerk get rates from local banks for borrowing money to pay for the project.. Board members were leaning toward bonding the costs for the project.

Board members also agreed that it was time to start the handicap accessibility project.

"It's good to get going and excellent to see it being brought up," Trustee Kevin Young said.

Trustee Bob Tinker simply added, "It's time."

In December, board members agreed to contract with Delaware Engineering to prepare plans for making Village Hall handicapped accessible, Mayor Knight told board members. Since then, there were many phone calls, e-mails, and proposed plans concerning different pathways to making this project both technically and fiscally feasible for the village and its taxpayers, the Mayor added.

Several different options were considered, the Mayor said.

Officials considered the possibility of putting a wheelchair lift where the front stairs into Village Hall currently are and building a side entrance ramp into the building, but after consulting a lift specialist, that location was ruled infeasible due to the front entryway’s dimensions, he said.

Then the village and engineers considered the possibility of installing either a wheelchair lift or ramp into the rear of Village Hall, but that ended up being the most expensive and least convenient option, the Mayor added, as that would require the village to remove a dumbwaiter from the rear hallway, make additional ADA compliant improvements, and eliminate two to three parking spots, which would negatively affect both the Village Hall and Kelley’s Grill.

In addition to those options, the village also reconsidered the possibility of either installing a wheelchair lift or ramp into a side entrance of the building. After a lot of research the engineers found this approach to be the most affordable and technically feasible option.

There are two factors to choose a ramp instead of a lift, the Mayor said.

The two factors are: a ramp allows for "greater accessibility into Village Hall than a lift, since everyone – wheelchair bound folks, mothers with strollers, and residents who have difficulty climbing the existing steep stairs – would be able to utilize this entrance," and a ramp is likely to have fewer long-term maintenance issues than a lift, which will result in expensive service calls and eventual replacement when it deteriorates over time, Mayor Knight added.

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