Handicap-access plan pitched for playhouse

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

A project to pave the Andy Griffith Playhouse parking lot is being expanded to also include improvements to make the site more accessible for handicapped individuals.

That and the paving of the lot — which also serves the nearby Andy Griffith Museum — is to be accomplished for a total price tag of about $76,000, according to figures prepared by city government officials.

Of that figure, $45,000 is set aside for paving, a project that was postponed by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during a meeting on April 5 due to access concerns. It was disclosed then that other work was needed to ensure the lot is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against handicapped persons as it relates to access to such venues.

The board subsequently instructed Public Works Director Jeff Boyles to investigate that issue involving city-owned property used by the Surry Arts Council, and report back.

Boyles responded with a list of improvements and related cost estimates totaling nearly $31,000 at a commissioners meeting Thursday night, when they went ahead and approved a $45,000 allocation for the paving contract earlier considered.

The public works director also was told Thursday to obtain formal bids for the handicap-access work, and in the meantime the resurfacing portion will be on hold since the other improvements are to occur first.

Handicapped parking lacking

“I think the slope of the ramp is the number one concern,” Boyles said of issues raised during recent discussions with Arts Council personnel including Executive Director Tanya Jones.

The ramp from the parking lot to the portico, or porch area at the entrance to the Andy Griffith Playhouse, exceeds the maximum-allowed slope, explained the public works director. The handicapped ramp also needs railing on both sides, with only one side included now.

In addition, the lot has just one accessible (or handicapped) parking space, with three required by law, and there is no clearly marked access aisle from the handicapped parking area to the ramp.

The solution devised by Boyles calls for eliminating an existing drop-off lane near the playhouse building along with the existing accessible space and establishing three handicapped spaces at the top of the ramp. The lot also is to gain four regular spaces under this configuration.

In response to a board concern about whether buses that frequently enter the lot transporting students to the playhouse complex would have more trouble maneuvering under the change, Boyles said it should be easier.

The plan further calls for a concrete walkway from the handicapped spaces to the front of the playhouse, the slope of which should be flat enough to not require handrails.

“This estimate ($30,855) is based on the contractor doing it all,” Boyles said in response to Commissioner Jon Cawley asking if city crews could handle some of the handicapped accessibility-related work rather than having everything done by a private entity.

Boyles said this is possible, which could reduce the figure cited. The major itemized expense is for the concrete sidewalk ($8,100), with lighting representing a $5,000 expenditure.

Board members seemed anxious to move forward, not only with the paving but the access improvements.

“It’s long-overdue, I think we need to go ahead with it,” Commissioner Shirley Brinkley said of playhouse parking lot work that had been put on hold in August 2016 before recently being revisited by the council.

In 2016, the board not only decided that the paving wasn’t a priority at that time, despite the fact the lot had not be surfaced in about the past 30 years, but also a more extensive project costing $293,400.

“That was a complete rebuild, redesign,” Boyles reminded Thursday night.

Commissioner Steve Yokeley said the paving and handicapped-accessibility projects now in the works would seem to be “an acceptable compromise” compared to the extensive plan.

The paving contract was awarded to Carl Rose & Sons of Elkin for $40,704. The total funding allocation of $45,000 includes contingency money for unforeseen problems.

As part of this, the commissioners approved an amendment to the city’s 2017-2018 budget for that sum Thursday night.

Officials are planning to have the playhouse work completed by the time the fiscal year ends on June 30.

Improvements have $30,855 price tag

By Tom Joyce


Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.