SILER CITY — Commissioners met last Tuesday evening at the Wren Memorial Library multipurpose room, where they were finally given a “soft opening” date — March 6 — for the courtroom at the renovated city hall.
Court officials, however, have told town administration they wanted an ADA-accessible ramp installed at the back of Siler City’s city hall rather than the wheelchair lift the board of commissioners asked for when designing the renovation project.
Town Manager Hank Raper said that was because the Pittsboro courthouse has the same wheelchair lifts, and court officials said people had been hesitant to use the lifts.
“They said they prefer the ramp because they have two chairlifts that are never used because people were scared of them,” Raper said. “They didn’t trust the lifts.”
Commissioners expressed displeasure about the request because of an additional cost, with the lifts costing around $60,000 and the ramp costing $200,000. Mayor Chip Price asked Raper if it was an option to ask for additional funds from the county.
“It’s funny, the court and the sheriff sure are asking for a lot of stuff, but I haven’t seen anything that says how much they’re willing to put into the pot,” Price said. “It would’ve been nice to know about the ramp when we were at the beginning of this process.”
Other commissioners expressed similar concerns. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Haiges said he was glad to see the remaining projects laid out in various phases, but said the price of the ramp was still a concern.
“It’d be different if we had planned for it,” Haiges said. “Maybe there’s a way we can ask them to just pay for some of it, because we funded one version, and they don’t want that — they want something else.”
The discussion was tabled to further negotiate with court officials regarding the ADA-accessible ramp.
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.