Library loses five parking spaces for disabled patrons

In compliance with the law, Commuter Services has taken five accessible parking spaces away from disabled persons since construction began on the Marriott Library.

The five spaces were in the visitor lot next to the loading dock. The lot has been permanently closed and the accessible spaces will not be replaced.

“I need to do research,” said Arlene Jonsson, an undeclared student who suffers from knee and hip problems. “I want to be able to access the library, but I can’t walk that far. I’m in too much pain.”

There are still four accessible stalls next to the bookstore, but Jonsson is worried about the competition for those spaces between bookstore and library patrons.

“There’s never enough (space to park),” she said.

The other four handicap parking spaces are in front of the Marriott Center for Dance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, only requires the U to have a total of eight handicap accessible spaces for a lot with less than 400 total stalls.

The lot between the library and the dance center has 380 spaces. The lot serves those two buildings and the bookstore, Office Building 44, the Performing Arts Building and the Skaggs Biology Building.

A problem with the ADA’s section on parking, said JoePete Wilson, director of the U’s Center for Disability Services, is that it discourages an excess of the minimum accessible spaces required.

During the Olympics, an excess of handicap accessible parking was installed with the mindset that if any problems were to arise, the cheapest and easiest solution is to eliminate spaces to meet the minimum number.

“The law pits the spirit of ADA against the technical details of it,” Wilson said.

The U’s policy is now to only meet the minimum requirement, said Patti Ibholm, assistant director of parking enforcement.

Three of the five accessible spaces in the now-closed visitor lot were in excess of the minimum required for that lot. If it had remained open, those three would probably have been converted to regular spaces, she said.

Another problem with the law is that it requires a lesser percentage of accessible spaces for larger lots.

A lot with only 26 spaces requires two handicap accessible spaces-more than seven percent of the total, but a lot with 400 spaces only needs eight-just two percent of the total.

That means that if the parking spaces near the bookstore were considered a separate lot, the U would be required to add another three accessible spaces in the area between the library and the dance center.

Wilson said it is too early to tell how many people will be affected by the new arrangement.

Ibholm said that if any patrons have trouble or are worried about their safety, they could always contact campus security for an escort.

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