At their last meeting, the Clinton County commissioners bowed to the judgment of the Historical Review Board, abandoned a prior plan for handicapped access to the courthouse and authorized the study of a third plan, which would access the building through what is presently the window of the ladies' bathroom. I greeted this odd decision with a flippant comment, which, on further reflection, I greatly regret.
The HRB apparently takes the view that style is paramount and the needs of those who use the building and work in it are of minor importance. It is acceptable, in its view, to preserve the facade of the building by ripping and tearing at the interior fabric and requiring disabled persons to claim their legitimate right of access by climbing in through a bathroom window.
We do not erect buildings in order to stand across the street and admire them. They serve a purpose, and the plain fact of the matter is that in this case that purpose is compromised by the fact that access to the courthouse presents a challenge to those who are not able bodied. If the simplest and least intrusive remedy for that situation offends the aesthetic sense of the HRB, too bad. If all else fails, we could achieve disabled access through the left main door and egress by the right door, build two ramps and thus preserve the symmetry of the North front. The important point is disabled citizens should enjoy the same right of access through the same door as everyone else.
There was criticism of the previous boards of commissioners for their failure to anticipate this bureaucratic roadblock erected by the HRB. Justice might have been better served by criticizing the HRB for their lack of compassion to their fellow citizens.