GREENVILLE Meeting room with no elevator disputed
Two local women could not climb the stairs to the borough council meeting.
By LAURI GALENTINE
GREENVILLE, Pa. -- It's been a problem before, and was again a problem Tuesday: borough council meetings held in an upstairs room -- with no elevator in the building.
Members of the Greenville Area Preservation Association decided it was time to act when Greenville council members moved this month's meeting back to that room in the borough building on Main Street, after meeting at the high school for several months.
Speaking on behalf of the association at the council meeting, Robert Perrotti said two women from the organization sat at the bottom of the stairs through last week's agenda meeting because health conditions prohibited them from making that climb to council chambers.
The same two women would have liked to attend this week's meeting, but they knew they would again be stuck at the bottom of the stairs.
Perrotti said he offered to get some help and carry them up, but they told him it would be too embarrassing and stayed away.
Group members said they have spoken to council about the situation before. In light of the decision to move the meetings back to the upstairs room, they feel they must file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Borough Solicitor Warren R. Keck II agreed that it is illegal to hold public meetings in a place that is not accessible to all of the citizens.
Councilwoman Pamela S. Auchter answered Perrotti's presentation with a simple, "If you feel you need to file, go ahead and file."
Councilwoman Robin S. Douglas added, "I don't understand why we're making them file that thing when we all know it's wrong."
"Until we have a time when we can fix up the building, I don't think it's fair to have the meeting here," she added.
Council President Richard H. Houpt said, "If you want to put the blame on anyone, put it on me. I thought we'd have the downstairs ready."
Houpt explained that the construction work on the renovation to the first floor firetruck bay had just begun. Council has plans to turn the garage, left empty when the fire department moved into its new building last year, into a new council chambers. He also said that Greenville Area School District Administration told him that council could not use the high school assembly room permanently, and that's what prompted him to move the meetings back to the borough building before the first floor room is ready.
"We won't hold another meeting up here until the circumstances change," Houpt said.