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How accessible is the Freeborn County Government’s Center?

One man says the building is not handicap friendly.

Posted: Jul. 11, 2018 8:15 AM
Updated: Jul. 11, 2018 2:33 PM

ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Steve Steele sometimes uses a wheelchair due to health conditions.

He said the new part of the Freeborn County Government’s Center, which is about 15 years old, is not easy to get around in a wheelchair.

There are two accessible entrances at opposite ends of the building, which he said makes for long routes to travel within the building.
Steele also said not all the doors are handicap accessible.

“It's horrible,” he said. “A lot of the doors aren't handicap accessible, you can't open the doors from a wheelchair.”

In 2017, the county received complaints about the doors. Four of the 20 doors were found to be over the weight limit required by the American Disabilities Act. ADA guidelines state that a door shouldn’t require someone to exert more than five pounds of force to open it.

Freeborn County Administrator Thomas Jensen said now, all the doors meet ADA requirements.

“The one issue was with the doors closing and the poundage. Once we were made aware of it, we took the steps to rectify it,” he said.

Along with the door complaint made in 2017 was a complaint about small wicker tables in the bathroom. The tables created too little space and were removed in response to the complaint.

Steele acknowledges the changes but still isn’t satisfied.

“They're still not doing a good job,” he said.

Steele noted not that even after the changes to the bathrooms, not all are accessible. One set of bathrooms has a door to a small space, leading to a second door to get into the bathroom.

“If you're in a wheelchair, you're not able to pull the door open, and it will stay open so you can get your wheelchair through,” he said.

Jensen said he had never heard of this complaint but still acknowledges some hardships that come with the building’s location.
“Anyone can see it’s not perfect. It’s on a hillside, but that’s the city street."

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