Jackson County Exec Advocates Courthouse Accessibility Amid Desperate Need For Repair

There is nobody who has ever visited the courthouse who will argue against DESPERATELY NEEDED renovation.

Accordingly, here's a newsworthy note from the Exec's office about legislation that hopes to start repairs:

Jackson County Executive eager to enhance downtown courthouse accessibility

Monday public hearing on Ordinance 5783 balances ADA compliance of north steps with preservation of historic facility

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  –  The Jackson County Executive is enthusiastically calling on all organizations and community members concerned with accessibility in public spaces to lend their voice in support of Ordinance 5783. Slated for a public hearing on Monday, Sept. 18 at Noon, this vital ordinance seeks to marry modern-day accessibility needs with the preservation of the historic essence of the Jackson County Courthouse.

Introduced by 5th District Jackson County Legislator Jeanie Lauer on August 21, the ordinance is a manifestation of the county's unwavering commitment to fostering an environment that's welcoming and accessible to every resident. Additionally, all improvements will meet the current ADA Standards for Accessible Design and Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG).

Beyond the essentials of accessibility, the project is meticulously designed to preserve and enhance the architectural aesthetics, further beautifying the downtown courthouse. Major aspects of the renovation encompass:

- The selection of Gunter Construction Company, a reputable women-owned business, to execute the renovation
- Architectural preservation respecting the Art Deco design
- Integration of ADA-compliant ramps and architectural hardware updates
- Comprehensive stair modification improvements
- Augmentation of retaining walls, landscaping and paving
-Significant mechanical, electrical and plumbing renovations

Following a rigorous bid process, a committee of experts from the Purchasing and Public Works Departments endorsed the Gunter Construction Company for this project, ensuring quality workmanship and a keen focus on inclusivity.

The 2021 facility assessment report, commissioned by the county, revealed over $250 million in deferred maintenance needs for the downtown courthouse. This renovation, thus, represents a timely and significant step forward in addressing these concerns.

"The very essence of democracy is rooted in providing equal access and opportunities to all,” said Jackson County Executive, Frank White, Jr. “Our county courthouse, a symbol of justice and community, should embody this principle in every brick and beam. Ensuring its accessibility for every individual, irrespective of their abilities, is not just a project – it's a promise."

The north steps of the downtown courthouse have been temporarily inaccessible for a period of time due to safety concerns for residents entering the facility. The attached pictures illustrate the hazardous condition of these steps, characterized by cracked concrete, uneven surfaces and gaps in the foundation. Approval of this critical project will allow the County to begin the process of ushering in a new era of accessibility while paying homage to its rich heritage.

The Jackson County Courthouse stands as an architectural timepiece, capturing the spirit of its age. Commissioned in 1934, this Art Deco masterpiece was designed by the illustrious firm Keen and Simpson, in collaboration with Edward F. Neild and Frederick C. Gunn. Serving as a beacon of hope during economically tumultuous times, its construction provided much-needed employment to Kansas Citians, symbolizing progress and a bright future.


Photos from Jackson County included in this press release via www.TonysKansasCity.com collage:

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