"Right now we are accommodating (those in wheelchairs) any way we can, but in the future we can accommodate them the way they should be."
- Shawn Riley,
Kootenai County's building and grounds director
By BRIAN WALKER
COEUR d'ALENE — Kootenai County's downtown facilities and the fairgrounds are about to become much more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
County commissioners approved a $411,000 contract with Ginno Construction to make ADA improvements to four buildings downtown and two parking lots.
In addition, the board earmarked $175,000 in the fiscal 2018 budget for building and ADA improvements at the fairgrounds.
"It's about accessibility and making reasonable accommodations for people," said Shawn Riley, the county's building and grounds director.
The downtown projects will start at the end of the month and take about a year to complete.
Buildings that will be remodeled to meet ADA standards include the justice building, courthouse, juvenile justice center and the courtroom at the jail.
"The majority of the improvements will be at the justice building and the courthouse," Riley said.
The projects include remodeling bathrooms, courtrooms, installing signage and striping parking lots between the court buildings and on the west end of the campus outside the records area.
Riley said the ADA standards changed dramatically in 2010 so it's time for the county to get caught up.
"The Department of Justice was here in September for a compliance review of all the court facilities," Riley said. "The feds want us to make the changes within 15 months, but we are going to shoot for 12."
The courtroom improvements will include creating room for wheelchairs by altering the seating, remodeling the jury boxes and installing a wheelchair lift if needed in one room for the judge to reach the bench.
"Right now we are accommodating (those in wheelchairs) any way we can, but in the future we can accommodate them the way they should be," Riley said. "We'll try to repurpose as many materials as we can to keep the cost down."
Riley said the county also continues to install ADA-compliant counters in the Administration Building.
Ginno was the only company to bid on the project, a sign of the busy construction times, Riley said.
"It didn't surprise me because everyone is so swamped," he said, adding the price was about what the county expected it would be.
Riley said the county will go out to bid on the evidence remodel project at the jail soon.
• Meanwhile, at the fairgrounds, a sidewalk with lighting from the food court to the grandstand will be constructed likely before the end of the year.
"Right now (those with disabilities) have to go to the north or south," Riley said. "This will be a straight shot to the grandstand."
A plan on how to spend the $175,000 on improvements at the fairgrounds will be presented to the commissioners on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
This year's budget included $100,000 for improvements, which included remodeled bathrooms in the grandstands, a remodel of Building 4 near an entry and an accessible ramp with cover to Building 3.