The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
the Times 

Columbia County Rural Library District addresses wheelchair mobility issues


December 5, 2019

Michele Smith

Modifications will be made on the inside of this south facing door of the Delany Room for ease of access for library patrons in wheelchairs. The stairs will be removed, the platform extended and a hybrid type elevator or lift will be installed.

DAYTON—There are issues with wheelchair mobility for some patrons at the Dayton Memorial Library, and Librarian Dusty Waltner is aware and has been concerned about them, she said.

For instance, the wheelchair ramp into the Delany Building is too steep, the restrooms are not fully ADA compliant and the stacks of books on the main floor of the library are too close together for wheelchair access.

In addition, there is no wheelchair access down to the children's library, in the basement.

Waltner explained the need to separate the adults, who wanted quiet, from the children, by moving the children downstairs.

"This was in order to create a space everyone could use, with plans of making it accessible," she said.

She said historic buildings are not required to retrofit as long as they can provide reasonable accommodations. And no action can be taken that would threaten or destroy the historic significance of a historic property, which means the exterior cannot be modified.

Waltern said action will be taken to address some of the interior building issues.

She said the library will be closed for two weeks over Christmas for new paint and carpet. The book shelves will be moved and the floor plan modified to make the area more accessible for wheelchair mobility.

She said there is also forward momentum on the problem of lack of wheelchair access to the children's library.

Waltner said plans are in the works to get some sort of elevator or lift installed inside the south facing side door, of the Delany Building.

"We had the fire marshall look at the space to make sure that it would work. He said 'yes', it's doable," she said.

A representative from a Spokane company visited the library on Nov. 19 and Waltner is waiting for a cost estimate.

A hybrid type elevator won't cost as much as a traditional elevator, because it only needs an eight-inch pit below, she said.

With the adoption of their 2020 budget on Nov. 18, the Library District now has $270,000 set aside for capital expenditures, more than enough to pay for this improvement.

Waltner said the Dayton Memorial Library was the beneficiary of a partnership between the Washington State Legislature and the Washington State Library, when a Rural Needs Assessment was performed at the library,in May.

The study said an extensive interior renovation need to take place, including updates for accessible restrooms, a new HVAC system, and adequate areas for patron and staff use, at a total cost of 2.8 million.

That report will be used as a guide, Waltner said.

In the meantime, the library staff and Library Board are moving forward with their plans to provide a quality experience for library patrons.


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