Brentwood’s new firehouse, opened in 2011, doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and needs to, Brentwood city attorney, Kevin O’Keefe told the board of aldermen on Monday. Fire Chief Terry Kurten said buying a property next to the building for an elevator shaft would be the most cost-effective way to do that.
The issue came up because the city has the chance to buy 8746 Eulalie Avenue, east of the firehouse. The cost would be approximately $200,000, Alderman Tom Kramer said.
“We have an issue,” Fire Chief Terry Kurten said. “If we lose this opportunity to purchase this property, which can provide some benefit in several ways… and a new home is built on this lot, we’ll never have the opportunity to acquire that ground.”
Kurten said when the fire station was built an elevator wasn’t planned, to maximize the value, and installing one now would be disruptive internally, would cost square footage and be extremely costly.
He said buying the property and building an elevator shaft on the outside wall of the fire station would cost less, and provide access to the station’s second floor training room, which could then be used for public meetings.
Alderwoman Kathy O’Neill said she didn’t think it’s needed if it’s only being driven by the need for ADA compliance. She said any public meetings could be held somewhere else, at the recreation center, for instance. Also, “When I toured the new Maplewood firehouse, they have a wonderful training room, which could be used for public access, and it’s on the lower level so it’s ADA compliant.”
Kurten replied that an ADA specialist had studied the firehouse since it was built and determined that an elevator is needed. City Administrator Bola Akande said the fact that there is a meeting room on the second floor of a city public building means that it needs to comply.
Alderman David Dimmitt asked: “As long as the training room is not used for a public purpose then we do not have to retrofit this building with an elevator that should have been constructed in the first place. So by using this training room for a public purpose, then we have to look at spending $200,000 for this piece of land plus hundreds of thousands of dollars for construction of an elevator simply to be able to use this room for public purpose, is that fair?”
City attorney O’Keefe answered that the ADA requires that a public building be built fully accessible, whether or not the public is actually invited. He said there haven’t been any legal actions taken that would force the city to comply.
No vote was taken. It was the first reading of the measure.
Also in the meeting resident Barry Williams suggested that the city use the northwest corner of Hanley and Manchester (now vacant) to build a putt-putt golf course. He said there use to be one across Manchester Road, where the industrial park is now, in the 1960s.