Rights Groups Warn County Of Legal Action Over Access
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 24, 2006
MONTROSS, VIRGINIA--Westmoreland County officials have been given one week to present a plan for making two important building accessible to citizens with disabilities -- or face legal action.
According to the Free Lance-Star, the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia notified the county that the George D. English Sr. Memorial Office Building and the old Circuit Court building, which houses the county clerk's office, still do not meet accessibility requirements under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
The groups claim that the county has not followed through with an agreement it made in 2003 to settle an accessibility lawsuit, and that the buildings still lack adequate wheelchair ramps, curb cuts, accessible restrooms and signage.
"The Americans with Disabilities Act is 16 years old now, and we're still fighting for basic compliance," remarked Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU.
The ACLU gave the county until March 28 to present its plan.
Some advocates are upset that the county has paid little attention to access issues, while at the same time it is expected to spend $140,000 to renovate the office of County Administrator Norm Risavi.
"It's bad enough to flaunt the law by ignoring the rights of disabled persons," said Willis, "but it is an outright affront to human decency to spend more than $100,000 to renovate a building without adding something as simple and inexpensive as ramps that rise 3 feet."
"Civil rights lawyers press county for wheelchair access" (Daily Press)
"Westmoreland faces civil action" (Free Lance-Star)