Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
By Shelley Grieshop
County upgrade gets OK
Courthouse access to see improvement
  CELINA - Courthouse committee members on Tuesday approved a plan to upgrade handicapped-accessibility to the main entrance of the building.
New LED lighting on the front lawn also is being considered to replace the current floodlights.
Mercer County Community Development Director Jared Ebbing - who is applying for $80,000 in Community Development Block Grant Allocation funds for the project - explained the plan to committee members before seeking their approval.
The proposal includes the addition of sidewalks from the southeast and northeast corners of the courthouse along Main Street to a ramp to be constructed south of the front entrance. An automatic-open door also would be installed.
Most of the deteriorating front sidewalk would be replaced and handicapped-accessibility would be created where it meets the Main Street sidewalk.
The courthouse currently has a ramp on the west side of the building. However, commissioners believe it's not convenient from other parking spaces surrounding the courthouse. Also, if future security concerns require locking all doors but the main entrance, handicapped-accessibility would be necessary at that site.
"We're trying to do this as symmetrical as possible," Ebbing said, showing the committee an illustration of the proposed design.
Common pleas court judge Jeffrey Ingraham - a committee member - asked why the sidewalk leading into the main doors couldn't be replaced with a ramp instead of creating two new sidewalks across the front lawn.
County commissioner Jerry Laffin said state and federal laws mandate a landing or resting area after a set number of feet in a ramp.
The long span of sidewalk from the street to the main door would require numerous landings, he explained.
The judge later asked if the ramp to the west of the courthouse would remain.
"That's up to the committee, but I don't see any reason why not," Laffin said.
Ebbing said there is a tentative plan to construct another sidewalk closer to the building to connect the rear and front entrances, but no formal action was proposed.
The entire project is expected to cost between $80,000 and $90,000. Commissioners said the county likely would pick up expenses not covered by the CDBG funds.
The work is expected to begin next spring, officials said. A public meeting to draw input on the project is set for 10 a.m. June 5 at the commissioners' office in the Central Services Building in Celina.
County maintenance supervisor Dave Dorsten told the committee he is looking into the possible purchase of energy-efficient LED lights to replace the floodlighting on the courthouse lawn.
"They're 1,000 watt and there's eight of them out there right now," he said.
Dorsten said he'll get estimates on LED lighting and report his findings. Ingraham suggested LED lights be used to illuminate the front sidewalk, which isn't well lit by late afternoon in the winter months.
Ebbing said replacing the floodlights with LED lighting may provide more flexibility for locating the handicapped sidewalks and ramp.
Commissioners and Ebbing also told committee members about work to be completed soon on the employee parking lot at the corner of Livingston and Walnut streets. It will be paved to accommodate 54 angled parking spaces, and will be designed as a one-way lot with an entrance and exit along Walnut Street, Ebbing said.
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