Requested amount decreases for campus accessibility need - The Daily Barometer: News

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Requested amount decreases for campus accessibility need

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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 9:48 pm

Bonds for ADA compliance changed from $10 million to $8.6 million.

Oregon State University’s proposal to draw $10 million from the state for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance needs fell to $8.6 million.

The Oregon Legislature dropped the amount due to a limited amount of capital construction funds available for colleges. OSU students and administrators continue discussions on how to improve ADA compliance on campus, but funding only comes primarily from requested state bonds.

The original $10 million, which followed a $200 million request the state granted to Oregon Health & Science University, would address accessibility barriers in various campus buildings and better access to outdoor ramps. One large barrier, which will still be addressed with the $8.6 million, lies between the Valley Library and Joyce Collin Furman Hall.

An external survey from SZS Consulting Group listed more than 5,000 outdoor barriers on OSU’s campus.

Bryan Williamson, Associated Students of Oregon State University director of accessibility affairs, said obtaining additional funds must be addressed sooner than later.

“We need to look forward and get this finished,” Williamson said.

Williamson said acquiring the bonds from this legislature short session will help OSU move in the right direction and gain momentum for ADA compliance needs.

Williamson plans to begin discussions with members of the OSU Foundation board to look into alternative funding options from donors.

Sherm Bloomer, budget director at OSU, said there haven’t yet been any special donor funds to address accessibility and ADA compliance needs alone.

“We’ve ... done that through state moneys as part of deferred maintenance,” Bloomer said.

According to Bloomer, construction on the latest buildings goes through a review process. 

“When you renovate a building or build a new building, part of the design is addressing issues of accessibility,” Bloomer said.

Taylor Sarman, director of government relations at ASOSU, said the reduced amount still helps the university improve progress with some structural barriers on campus.

“That number’s far better than zero,” Sarman said. “I think it was just a matter of looking at the funds that were available.”

Sarman said conversations among administrators and legislators will continue as OSU figures out how to move forward.

Sean Bassinger

Higher education reporter

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