The new windows being installed at the main Port Townsend Post Office cast light on an old problem: Only the able-bodied can climb the 13 steep steps into the building. There are no ramps nor …
The new windows being installed at the main Port Townsend Post Office cast light on an old problem: Only the able-bodied can climb the 13 steep steps into the building. There are no ramps nor elevators.
A simple, inexpensive fix is possible. A ramp from the north west of the rear parking lot would provide a short, straight and nearly level path to enter the west end of the building. Such a project would be much less costly than the current window replacement upgrade.
DASH (Disability Awareness Starts Here) and other concerned citizens have for decades asked local, regional and national postal authorities for an accessible entrance. Their response, invariably negative, features two main elements: First, they have no budget for costly accessibility upgrades. The second point cites the U.S. Postal Service’s exemption from modern accessibility standards under a generous grandfather clause in the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act for legacy facilities — provided that no building upgrades have taken place since 1968.
No law requires the USPS to cling to the status quo; the act merely provides thin legal cover should postal authorities continue to refuse reasonable citizen demands for change.
The current Port Townsend Post Office upgrade, which includes scaffolding around the entire multi-story building, demonstrates that the USPS has funding for major capital projects. Building a simple accessible ramp is clearly not a budgetary issue. The current construction also undermines the credibility of the supposed Architectural Barriers Act mandate that facilities such as Port Townsend’s, built in 1892, can and should forgo any building upgrades.
USPS facilities are unique. All other federal, state, county, and local government offices provide accessible entrance for their patrons. Virtually all but the smallest commercial buildings also adhere to ADA standards.
We urge the post office to move beyond 1892.
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