Williamsport accused of violating agreement to make City Hall ADA compliant
WILLIAMSPORT — The city of Williamsport has been accused of violating terms of a consent decree to make modifications to City Hall so it complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Center for Independent Living of North Central Pennsylvania, the local chapter of ADAPT and four individuals Tuesday filed a motion in U.S. Middle District Court seeking to have the city held in contempt and sanctioned monetarily.
The four individual plaintiffs are Jay Harner and Tina Cummings of Williamsport, Thomas Grieco of Lock Haven, and Marie Prince of Jersey Shore.
The center, which serves people with disabilities, and ADAPT, an activist self-advocacy group, along with the four individuals on March 10 settled their suit against the city for $55,000 and the consent decree.
They had accused the city of deliberately choosing to maintain violations of federal accessibility laws from top to bottom in City Hall.
Consent decree violations claimed in the contempt motion include failure to hire a qualified consultant to ensure ADA compliance and to provide a mandated work plan.
The plaintiffs claim that John K. Brezan, who the city hired as a consultant, is neither trained nor experienced in ADA accessibility standards.
The city has not provided the requested professional resume or a sample of any ADA report he has written, they contend.
What was provided, they say, was a statement of qualifications claiming Brezan is an inspector/code official with more than 25 years of experience who is “certified” and state Department of Labor and Industry licensed in certain building construction areas.
The plaintiffs contend instead of establishing a work plan as required, Mayor Derek Slaughter presented a report that stated the contract has been awarded for an ADA-compliant exterior ramp and bids to modify the elevator are under review.
The city anticipates both projects, which address key elements of the plaintiffs’ complaint, will be completed by Nov. 10, the document states.
The report also states following a May 17 walkthrough of City Hall by Slaughter, Brezan and others the target for addressing the remaining ADA issues is March 19, 2020.
They include fire extinguishers at the wrong height, inadequate door clearances, no emergency lighting in restrooms, doors without accessible hardware, lack of signage and a fire alarm system do not serve the needs of the deaf.
City Hall, which closed early in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not been fully reopened.
City Council, when it resumed in-person meetings, has met at the city-owned Trade and Transit Centre II that is handicapped accessible.