After 128 years, San Antonio City Hall is finally going to be accessible to the disabled, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The local architectural firm of Beaty Palmer today picked up a $20,000 prize for submitting the winning design to build a disability entrance ramp into the front door of City Hall, while preserving the monumental 19th Century feel of the building.
The prize was paid by Gordon Hartman, who's commitment to the disabled is obvious through his Morgan's Wonderland theme park for the disabled. He said currently, the disabled have to go around back to an underground entrance, which he says is demeaning and unacceptable.
"They can go down a canal that will take them to a door, then find a special person with a special pass who will have to come and open the door for them, and then they can proceed," he said.
Hartman says this new ramp, which stretches from the street corner past the sweeping front steps to the main entrance of the building, will enable disabled citizens to enter through the front door just like all other taxpaying citizens.
"We are going to build it, because I know that there is a City Council that is passionate," he said. "I know it."
Like many government building built in the 19th Century to portray the 'grandeur' of government, City Hall is fronted by 12 concrete steps which lead up to the front door.
Hartman says when you consider people who require wheelchairs, walkers and canes, as well as people with cognitive disorders, several hundred thousand San Antonio residents are currently effectively shut out of active participation in City government.
Construction on the new ramp is expected to begin this winter.