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Plainfield report on ADA

Report: Plainfield Town Hall not ADA compliant for voting

By Eric Blaisdell Staff Writer

Aug 3, 2022

PLAINFIELD — It won’t impact next week’s primary election, but a new report states the historic Town Hall and Opera House lacks accessibility for those with disabilities, so it likely won’t be used as a polling place for the November election.

The Town Hall and Opera House in Plainfield is one building.

Questions remain about whether the issues can be rectified before Town Meeting Day in March.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the select board discussed a report from Disability Rights Vermont. On July 18, the advocacy organization sent the town the results of a polling place accessibility survey conducted May 31 at the building on Route 2.

The report states, “It is evident that the Town of Plainfield has made efforts to make the facility accessible. However, our survey identified some areas that remain out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”

The report included the organization’s findings and some possible solutions to the issues discovered.

The report states the building lacks a van-accessible public parking space. The organization told the town this could be rectified by designating an accessible parking space closest to the accessible entrance that would meet the criteria for a van-accessible spot. The spot must be 11 feet wide with a 5-foot wide access aisle, or 8-feet wide with an 8-foot access aisle, according to the report. The spot must also include appropriate parking signs. There is a designated parking space at the front of the building for those with disabilities, but it does not appear to have an access aisle.

The report stated the organization found no compliance issues with the accessible route to the front door of the building. It did highlight the bottom part of the route is starting to show signs of disrepair. The organization suggested the town look into repaving that section before it becomes a hazard.

The report stated the front door of the building is not in compliance with ADA standards. It said the standard requires a door’s threshold to be no higher than half an inch from ground level. The report stated the Town Hall’s front door sits about an inch above ground level.

The organization found no issues with accessibility inside the building or with the voting area, according to the report, though it noted the voting area was not in use at the time of the survey.

“While compliance issues were noted in certain areas of this building, overall there has been great effort to make the building accessible to all residents,” the report said.

The polling place for next week’s primary election has already been set at the town office on Main Street. Town Clerk Linda Wells said at Tuesday’s meeting she’s suggesting using the town office as the polling place for the general election in November as well, after receiving this report.

Board member Sasha Thayer suggested paving the walkway to the entrance of the building could address the deterioration of the pavement there and the height of the door’s threshold.

The town typically holds its annual town meeting at the Town Hall and the building serves as the polling place for business decided by Australian ballot on that day. Town officials said this report means they will have to address the issues presented before March if they want people to cast votes there.

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