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Elevator debate continues

by Larry S. Chowning

A proposal to consider appropriating $210,000 to install an elevator in the Woodward Building in Saluda met with further debate at the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors meeting on September 18.

During the public comment period, former state delegate Harvey Morgan of Saluda said he was opposed to the county spending funds for an elevator that is not required. “If it’s not necessary, don’t spend the money,” he said.

Morgan said that he has never come before the board to complain about the way the county spends its money, but that this was a “waste” of county funds and he felt that he needed to respond. He noted there are so few offices on the second floor, and recommended a first-floor room be made available to meet with the handicapped.

Monica Sanders of Topping said she agreed that putting an elevator in the Woodward Building does not make economic sense.

The board voted in August to seek an engineering firm to design an elevator for the Woodward Building, which houses several county offices. It has been advertised in newspapers that the county is seeking an engineering firm.

Saluda District supervisor Pete Mansfield has been opposed to spending $210,000 on an elevator. “This entire thing started over misinformation from the capital improvement plan,” he said, noting that language in the Middlesex Capital Improvement Plan states that an elevator is recommended by the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA).

Supervisors learned at a September 4 meeting an elevator was not required by the ADA. At that meeting county attorney Mike Soberick told supervisors the county is only required to “provide reasonable accommodations for those with a disability.”

A separate part of the engineering proposal includes designing a room in the courthouse basement for the office of the commonwealth’s attorney. Mansfield said he is in favor of this because there is a positive return on the county’s investment. The county is currently renting a building to house the office.

Mansfield also said that more signage is needed to let people know that if they cannot get up the steps of the Woodward Building then county employees will come down to assist them.

Interim county administrator Bill Whitley said his staff will immediately take care of this.

posted 09.26.2012

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