For the first time, Marilyn Kurutz is able to attend Duquesne, Pa., City Council meetings in person. No more sitting in the downstairs lobby, squinting at a fuzzy black-and-white TV set and shouting into a microphone.
|Marilyn Kurutz and her new lift|
“They’ve got an elevator at City Hall — finally!” Kurutz crowed in March. The 56-year-old civic-minded resident, who has adult-onset mitochondrial myopathy, fought for almost three years to attend council meetings held on the inaccessible second floor of City Hall. (See “A victory — followed by a long wait,” July-August 2005.)
Back in 2003 Kurutz and Duquesne Mayor Phil Krivacek reached an agreement through the U.S. Department of Justice ADA mediation program. But the agreed-upon solutions — including an elevator and bathroom remodeling — never seemed to materialize in the cash-strapped city. Meanwhile, the mayor refused to move the meetings to a more accessible building, and instead, set up the TV set/microphone in the lobby.
Duquesne (“du-KANE”) finally completed the renovations this year after receiving a government grant. Despite the delay, Kurutz believes the ADA mediation played a big part in making things happen.
“The mediation made it clear to the city that this is the law,” Kurutz says. “Before that, they thought I was just somebody blowing smoke. It wasn’t real. The ADA mediation made it real to them.”
To ensure the issue stayed alive Kurutz says she kept asking the city about it, and gave city officials information on obtaining government grants. She also stayed in contact with the DOJ.
For more information on the ADA mediation program, call the ADA Information line at (800) 514-0301, or visit www.ada.gov.