LETTER: If airport expands, don't forget about disability access

Sunday, October 3, 2010 | 4:57 p.m. CDT

The City Council is looking at the feasibility of making Columbia Regional Airport a much bigger place in the future to handle more capacity.

My first question on this: Is this feasibility research going to include a way to get funding to finally put a jet bridge between the terminal and the planes instead of passengers having to climb the stairwells and the mobility challenged having to be lifted up to the plane entrance on some type of device I have not heard rave reviews about at all?

Also, let us all wait and see if the disability community of this area and the Disabilities Commission are in on the ground floor of this research into the feasibility of this issue. Obviously, the entire disability community of the surrounding area and the commission were entirely left out of the ground-floor process to look at the feasibility of the dinner train we are in the middle of controversy over now.

When all new projects of this magnitude — including shopping centers and new subdivisions — are to be researched and initially developed, the disability community of this entire area and the Disabilities Commission need to be involved from the beginning until the end so architects and planners might know the needs of the disabled — and that includes the mobility-challenged of our community.

Also, we as a community need to hold our city administrators to some higher standards when it comes to our building inspections. That also includes the Planning and Zoning Commission, which approves these new shopping centers and subdivisions.

When I first moved here to Missouri in 1997, I heard Columbia was the most disabled-friendly city in the state, but as time has gone by, a lot of times I see things far differently. I believe it is time our overseers at City Hall be held more accountable to the International Building Code as it relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act and more accountable to you, the community of Columbia and the surrounding area as a whole.

Accessibility with ease and equality is for everybody — not just a select group of citizens, as those spouting the hyperbole want you to think.

Charles Dudley Jr. lives in Columbia.

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Ray Shapiro October 4, 2010 | 10:46 p.m.

Here's one model airport:
("Escorting a Person with Special Needs:
Please contact your airline in advance if you need to assist a small child or person with disabilities to their departure gate.")

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