No change to handicap seating at city stadium
COLUMBUS, Jan 09, 2013 (Columbus Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The city's Americans with Disabilities Compliance Committee chose not to pursue changes to the handicapped seating at Pawnee Park's Memorial Stadium following a request to review the section.
Committee member Shelly DeWispelare, whose son uses a wheelchair, asked the group to take a look at the seating because she says it offers a poor view of events.
"You can't see the whole game from there," said DeWispelare, a para educator at Emerson Elementary School who was unable to attend Tuesday's committee meeting because of prior commitments at work.
DeWispelare said her son is a football fan, and trips to various stadiums have revealed Columbus offers some of the worst handicapped seating for spectators.
The handicapped section at Memorial Stadium is located on the field's north end, making it difficult to impossible for people in wheelchairs to see play on the south end, she said.
DeWispelare's solution is to update the handicapped seating at the stadium, which serves as the home site for Columbus High School and Scotus Central Catholic track meets and football games. The overall goal would be to offer more or better seating choices for handicapped spectators.
However, city officials and committee members weren't buying into the idea.
Public Property Director Doug Moore said the handicapped section was professionally designed by local engineering firm RVW Inc. when it was added 10 years ago. The area, which is accessible by ramps, meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards, he said.
Moore told the committee he has used the section while attending games with his father and had no trouble seeing the action. "It's just that you're not on the 50-yard line, you're on the 10-yard line."
Committee Chairman Tom Wunderlich said ADA rules require a specific amount of handicapped seating based on a venue's capacity, but "there's nothing in the law that says you have to put it on the 50-yard line or the 30-yard line, as long as the game is visible."
According to DeWispelare, her family has sat on the bottom row of the grandstands near the middle of the field to get a better view but her son's wheelchair reduces walking space and draws "looks" from others.
City Engineer Dave Goedeken said handicapped seating is designed so those using wheelchairs can quickly get to a ramp during an emergency and walkways are kept open to ensure the safety of others.
Moore also nixed the redesign because of space constraints.
A row of bleachers was already removed to improve the grandstands, he said, and the city plans to install handrails in response to other complaints, which will eliminate more seating.
"Our capacity is continuing to get less," Moore said.
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