Handicap accessibility prompts more discussion

The Coldspring City Council will be meeting Monday August 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the City Hall on Hwy 150 West in Coldspring. It is anticipated that the continued exploration of handicapped accessibility to the shops on the courthouse square and to find out about the results of an organized meeting of interested parties by the Coldspring Business and Merchants Association will most likely be the main topic of discussion.

The city welcomes attendance to the meeting. You may have the the opportunity to speak to the council by either placing your name on the comment list or call the City Hall by Thursday, July 30. By putting your name on the agenda you can become part of the official discussion for action to take part at the meeting.

A meeting held July 22 by shop and property owners who have businesses that front FM 1514 in the downtown area because they were concerned about losing parking in front of their buildings caused by providing handicap accessibility to the sidewalks. The project came about through the inquiry of a single individual to see if there was any help available through city, state, or federal funding. She contacted her senator, thus the topic of interest was addressed by TXDOT and then submitted to the City of Coldspring. The approval of the project was tabled at the last city council meeting for further research. At the recent July 22 meeting some twenty-five or so expressed various ideas and views on the “handicap accessibility” project plans. There was a letter in which spokesperson from the group Margaret Lynn shared. “In 1980 a ruling was approved by the City Council of Coldspring declaring the courthouse square as a Historical District”. The city backs the historical significance of the shops as evidence with the letter in which Mrs. Lynn shared.

The San Jacinto County Historical Commission Chairman, Rebecca Hammond was present at the meeting along with members of the Historical Commission, Coldspring Area Business and Merchants Association, property owners, shop keepers and even a few individuals that learned of the meeting and wanted to see the controversy handled is the best way possible.

The city nor the property owners are completely opposed to the shops being “handicap accessible” but that the proposed design from TXDOT is not visually desirable – risking the loss of the charm and historic integrity that the town currently possesses. Another main concern is the loss of about 20 parking spaces on the shop side of Hwy 1514.

On behalf of the City of Coldspring, this issue was placed on the Commissioners Court agenda by Mayor Pat Eversole. The city has offered to contribute $4,000 to the county for an employee parking lot as reported in last weeks San Jacinto New-Times. The county was receptive to this joint venture and is exploring the budget for the additional funds needed for an “employee parking lot”.

The plan of action is being determined as to how to proceed with coming to a desirable “handicap” plan for all involved. TXDOT has agreed to send a group of three representatives to explain and talk about the proposed project.

The shop owners and property owners have several alternative suggestions that were brought to the group at the meeting – according to TXDOT the meeting will most likely not take place until September at the earliest.

Questions were entertained as “what do we do from here”? Douglas Milstead of Shepherd, a non shop owner, insisted that “this is a delicate situation and you can’t go pushing and shoving or TXDOT and ADA will push right on through”.

Suggestions were made for all parties to give it some time to process through meeting with the TXDOT representatives, the city council and owners and proprietors to discuss alternative plans. It was suggested that if everyone will be receptive and open minded – working together can be the best solution.

The next City of Coldspring Council meeting is Monday, August 3 at 7:00 pm.