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Kingsport facing at least $1 million in ADA improvements

Matthew Lane • Nov 20, 2017 at 9:45 AM

“We have an obligation to every citizen that we need to be accessible.” — Ryan McReynolds

KINGSPORT — Kingsport officials have said three city buildings — City Hall, the Improvement building and the Midland Center — will need at least $1 million in renovations in the coming years to meet ADA guidelines.

And in all likelihood that figure will be much higher, as the facilities will not only need upgrades to bathrooms, but major structural changes to the interior of the buildings. Which is one of the reasons Kingsport is considering purchasing the Regions Bank building and consolidating six city offices there.

Assistant City Manager for Operations Ryan McReynolds recently discussed the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements facing Kingsport, what’s being done to address the situation and how it all plays into the decision to purchase the Regions Bank building.

The consolidation proposal

Last month, Kingsport officials laid out a two-part plan for City Hall and the Justice Center — consolidate six city offices into the Regions Bank building and consolidate all court functions from City Hall into an expanded Justice Center.

If it’s economically feasible, Kingsport would purchase the Regions Bank facility and a New Street parking lot for $2.82 million.

The building would then be home to more than 100 employees from six city offices:

— Administration from City Hall

— Engineering building (on Shelby Street)

— Development Services from the Improvement building (on Market Street)

— Legal, Risk Management and the health clinic from the Midland Center

— Human Resources from the V.O. Dobbins Community Center

— Procurement from the Public Works building (on Industry Drive)

Architects are working to come up with better figures on what it will actually cost Kingsport to relocate these offices into the Regions Bank building.

Americans with Disabilities

The federal government in September 2016 issued a Statewide Planning Finding for Tennessee requiring all local governments with 50 or more employees to identify an ADA coordinator and develop an updated self-evaluation and ADA transition plan.

Kingsport has until the end of December to outline its transition plan. Any modifications or renovations to city facilities must be done within the next two years.

“It’s a fresh assessment of every one of our facilities (buildings, offices, parks) against current ADA criteria,” McReynolds said. “This would create a master plan of capital projects ... to bring all of our facilities into compliance.”

The city has contracted with Cain Rash West of Kingsport to conduct a study of all municipal facilities to see what ADA upgrades are needed. In a report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last month, McReynolds said City Hall, the Improvement building and Midland Center would need at least $1 million worth of upgrades.

Getting better numbers

McReynolds said there are two parts of the cost estimate. The first has fairly hard numbers, such as the cost of upgrading the bathrooms. That number is $700,000. The second set of numbers deals with the functionality of the buildings — the entryways, hallways, doors and walls. That number is currently unknown, McReynolds said.

“It could be we need a hall that is ‘X’ wide, but our hall is not ‘X’ wide. We’d have to go and move walls and restructure offices, make true structural changes to the building,” McReynolds said. “There’s $700,000 with the known numbers, and it’ll be well more than $1 million with the structural changes.”

In addition to conducting the ADA study for the city, Cain Rash West is also conducting a facility study, looking at the cost to renovate the Justice Center and having Regions Bank become the new City Hall.

McReynolds said those studies are expected to be complete next April.

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