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On Monday Jan. 9, Mike Meinders went before the Riverside City Council to bring awareness to what he sees as a major limiting factor in participation by Riverside seniors in the senior dining program.
Meinders contends that the steps leading to the building make it hard for the handicapped to attend.
“It’s something that our community needs to do for the downtown to make things accessible so that we can get people that are handicapped, or have got walking issues, or anything like that so they can get into these buildings,” he said.
The building entrance predates a lot of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations as it was already in place when Meinders came to town 35 years ago.
To fix that, Meinders drew up a proposed change which would add a ramp to the entrance of the building. The ramp would curve in from the west side of the building. Meinders says the ramp only rises 10 to 12 inches and is well under the 24 inch maximum according to ADA regulations.
The proposed ramp would pave over the small garden and bench area because the flagpole gets in the way. If they tried to go around the flag, they would run into the existing sidewalk and obstruct traffic.
Meinders is unsure whether the flag would be replaced, but as the flag is currently on display at all times, Meinders has another issue.
“Under the law of a flag you are displaying 24/7, you must have a light on it,” Meinders said, something the current flag doesn’t have.
According to Meinders’ sketch, there would still be steps at the ramps highest point on the east side for people who can and would prefer to enter via that method.
For those who would question the necessity of such a project with the city working on a plan for a new community center, Meinders says they have already been working on a new center for a decade or so and it may still be years until a new center is ready to go.
Meinders says there would be a lot of concrete needed to be put down, but admitted he hadn’t inquired about what a project like this would cost before taking it in front of the city.
Meinders also says that if they were to get an increase in numbers that would help fix one of his main problems of attendance.
“Right now we don’t go there because the food’s not good,” Meinders said. “They should find somebody else, or at least improve the food. Right now they give it to us in little TV dinner trays. I don’t eat little TV dinner trays,” Meinders said with a grin.
During the Nov. 7 meeting, the council agreed to amend the senior dining contract with Elder Services Inc. Under the new contract, the dining program needs 15 attendees for the food service to deliver hot meals for the day.