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Lack of accessible parking attracts threat of suit

Staff writer

Marion’s lack of fully accessible downtown parking despite a recent streetscape project has resulted in a warning from a lawyer representing a disabled Marion resident.

The lawyer’s letter demands the city tell, by Tuesday, what it plans to do to resolve the problem.

“Failure to do so will result in continued escalation of this matter,” lawyer Josh Boehm wrote. “Our client is committed to seek an appropriate resolution through continued escalation of this matter, including but not limited to filing suit if necessary.”

The city did an extensive streetscape project two years ago. In new construction and alterations, federal law requires accessible parking to be provided if public parking exists. Kari Newell and her husband, Ryan, whose legs were amputated during the Gulf War, have brought lack of accessible parking to the attention of city officials several times.

After a January article in the Record, the city made some effort, but it fell short of federal requirements.

No lawsuit has been filed, but it was Ryan Newell’s lawyer who sent the letter to the city last week, and the Newells have said they might sue the city over the matter.

“The project has completely failed to comply with any modern standard, regulation or law regarding accessibility for handicapped or disabled persons,” Boehm wrote in the letter.

Boehm said he was writing specifically about work done on E. Main St. between 1st and 5th Sts. and accompanying work done at intersections with cross streets.

Boehm cites a Kansas law that reads in part: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of this state to encourage and enable the blind … and persons who are otherwise disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state and to engage in remunerative employment.

“Such persons shall have the same right as the able-bodied to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public facilities, and other public places.”

Last modified July 8, 2021

 

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