City officials vow to retrofit recycling drop-off sites to make them handicapped accessible
QUINCY — The squeaky wheel got the grease … and an apology.
Katie Stegner made repeated attempts last week to complain to city officials about the lack of handicapped accessibility at the city’s two recycling drop-off sites — 12th and Locust and the HyVee grocery store on Harrison. She also voiced her concerns in a letter to the editor published on the Muddy River News website.
She was the first public speaker during the public forum portion of Monday night’s Quincy City Council meeting.
“You are discriminating against any of those who are wheelchair-bound, anyone with mobility issues, whether temporary or permanent, anybody who is elderly or a veteran who cannot walk up those stairs carrying their recycling, and you also discriminate against those with transportation difficulties who also have disabilities,” she said.
“I truly believe by not providing accessibility, you are breaking the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. You are providing a service to the general public, and you should be required to meet those guidelines.”
She said Quincy Mayor Mike Troup “tried to push my questions to the city’s lawyers” when she spoke with him on Friday.
“I am dismayed at the city’s approach to the recycling drop-off program, and I encourage you to make sure all three sites are accessible to all of its citizens,” she said.
When Stegner finished speaking, Troup said any handicapped person who can’t get to the existing recycling sites should call the city’s Central Services department.
“We will have somebody come to their house, pick up the recycling and take care of it,” he said.
“Well, that’s new information,” Stegner said.
“We just learned that today, which I think one business day after we spoke is pretty good,” Troup said.
Aldermen later approved a lease agreement with The Home Depot, Inc., of Atlanta, to have a third recycling drop-off site at Home Depot, 5432 Broadway.
When Ben Uzelac, D-7, asked for Troup to confirm that the third site will be handicapped accessible when it opens later this month, Troup replied, “It was designed to have the ramps. By the way, we’re also taking a look at what we could do to add ramps to the other two sites as well.”
Near the end of the meeting, Patty Maples, D-6, asked Director of Public Works Jeffrey Conte why the first two recycling sites weren’t handicapped accessible.
“I guess I don’t have an answer for that,” Conte said. “We thought we were complying with the law by having the one site, and I guess we didn’t want to spend the additional funds required for the ramps. That was the biggest driver.”
Conte said his department is looking into retrofitting the ramps at the sites. He hopes to provide information on the additional cost to aldermen at next week’s meeting.
Eric Entrup, R-1, said he was part of the Central Services Committee that planned the recycling sites.
“I’d like to just say I think honestly it was just an oversight mistake on our part,” he said. “I mean, it was just never brought up in a committee.
“My wife is a physical therapist, and (she) does home care for Blessing (Health). She’s having a lot of her patients every day going on, and (she’s) passing all the complaints on to me every day about that exact same thing. Katie came up with some very good points tonight and put it right to our face.”
“I apologize that we didn’t catch it earlier,” Conte said. “We do appreciate it was brought to our (attention).”
Stegner was pleased with what she heard.
“I’m really excited that we are making progress,” she said after the meeting. “I just hope that the City Council can learn this lesson, that they need to keep people with disabilities on their mind when they start new construction projects.”
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