WILLIAMSPORT – The City of Williamsport has settled a lawsuit out of court for violating the terms of a consent decree to make changes to City Hall to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
An amended consent decree was filed in the US Middle District Court on Wednesday, signed by attorneys from the city and the Center for Independent Living of North Central Pennsylvania, the local section of ADAPT, and four individuals.
A consent decree dated March 11, along with a payment of $ 55,000, resolved the lawsuit of the center, which serves people with disabilities, ADAPT, a self-advocacy group, and the four people.
However, on July 6, they filed a motion for contempt, accusing the city of consciously choosing to uphold federal accessibility violations from top to bottom in town hall.
The violations alleged in the application included the failure to hire a qualified consultant to ensure ADA compliance and provide a mandatory work schedule.
Plaintiffs alleged that John K. Brezan, whom the city hired as a consultant, was neither trained nor experienced in ADA accessibility standards.
They also alleged that the city did not provide the requested professional résumé or a sample of an ADA report he had written.
Under the terms of the revised Consent Decree, the city will appoint a qualified and experienced accessibility advisor seven days after Judge Matthew W. Brann’s signature.
The person is to be retained within 14 days thereafter by written agreement, subject to the consent of the plaintiffs.
An on-site review of the town hall is to take place immediately and a report will be presented to the parties within 40 days of Brann signing the revised agreement.
The city must then draw up a draft of the work plan with the help of the advisor and the contributions of the plaintiffs.
If the city fails to meet any deadline or fails to execute the work schedule, it faces daily fines of $ 350.
The agreement recognizes that City Hall suffered water damage from a heavy rainstorm from July 13-14, and provides for a delay in the on-site inspection if conditions warrant.
That will happen because the town hall has been convicted and all offices, including the police, have to be relocated by September 4th.
Nobody should be in the building, said Mayor Derek Slaughter, who cited the smells and mold.
The city received a preliminary report from a private contractor who found that about a quarter of the building should be restricted due to poor air quality.
Since the heating and air conditioning are connected, the entire building is exposed to poor air quality, said the mayor.
The leak in the roof was repaired, but the cost of repairing the water damage was not estimated, he said.
The revised consent agreement requires the city to pay $ 12,500 in legal fees that plaintiffs have accrued since the original was approved in March.
The four sole plaintiffs are Jay Harner and Tina Cummings of Williamsport, Thomas Grieco of Lock Haven and Marie Prince of Jersey Shore.
The City Hall was completed as a post office in 1891 and is on the National Register of Historic Place.