RAPID CITY, S.D. When it comes to the Don Barnett Arena an important question is being asked.
“Can people come here with disabilities and receive the same experience?”Geoffrey Ames, the project Manager for Meeting the Challenge Inc., asked.
Yes— that's the answer the Americans with Disabilities Act Subcommittee of the Civic Center Resolution Task Force is hoping to achieve. To make that happen they brought in an expert, Geoffrey Ames, who specializes in disability rights.
“The subcommittee felt we did not possess the expertise we needed to solve a very complex problem,” Kevin Andreson, an ADA Subcommittee chair, said.
Ames spent the past 2 days touring the facility. He found one of the most pressing priorities is seating.
“Definitely improving the seating opportunities,” Ames said. “That is going to be a structural and architectural design issue to do it. It does not require a complete rebuilding and tear down of the building and starting from scratch.”
Ames also found issues like access to restrooms, and concession counters. Including problems that can be handled by maintenance staff, such as grab bars that are in the wrong places.
“It's a 3-step problem solving process phase. One, is ADA. Phase two is life safety. And, phase three is if we want to do something alternative with the Barnett Arena. We need a clear view of what those costs are and the scope of those projects and look at what's the best use of resources,” Andreson said.
Though the ADA law can be complex , and necessary changes seem daunting, it all boils down to one important goal.
“At its heart it's a civil rights law and the intent of the law is that people with disabilities should be able to be included and participate in everyone else does,” Ames said.
The subcommittee plans to receive a draft proposal of changes from Ames in the next three weeks.
They will use this draft with their overall product to take to the Department of Justice.