Handicapped parking expansion approved by Mount Pleasant city commissioners

Conversion of two spaces downtown at Broadway and University and Main and Illinois will cost about $10,600


Mayor Kathleen Ling listens to a community member speak during a City Commission meeting on May 22 at Mount Pleasant City Hall. 

A plan to provide additional spaces for barrier-free parking downtown was approved Monday by the Mount Pleasant City Commission. 

The resolution to develop two barrier-free parking spaces was passed, despite Vice Mayor Allison Quast-Lents' lone vote against the project. The cost to convert the two parking spaces is $10,610. 

The Isabella County Human Rights Committee requested the city consider providing on-street barrier-free parking spaces. After identifying potential parking spaces in the downtown, city commissioners concluded that angular parking spaces represented the highest potential for being converted into barrier-free parking.

One potential location for a parking space is at the corner of Broadway and University streets. The second potential location is at the corner of Main and Illinois streets. A third location that was discussed is at the corner of Main and Broadway streets. That location was ruled out because of the unsatisfactory condition of the road. 

Commissioner Lori Gillis strongly supported the conversion of the two spaces into barrier-free parking. Gillis explained that because of the surplus of available parking spaces in the downtown some spaces could be spared for handicapped parking. 

"To a disabled person, 50 steps to the entrance of a storefront, versus 200 steps, is a drastic difference," Gillis said. "A few spaces next to the sidewalk, reserved for the disabled, seems like the right thing to do." 

Anne Swift, a representative for the Human Rights Committee, said she believes the lack of handicapped parking options makes Mount Pleasant less accommodating and welcoming to citizens with disabilities. 

"Summer is the busiest time downtown, so for people who need barrier-free parking, the nicest time of the year is the hardest time for them to do so, " Swift said. "Mount Pleasant calls itself a welcoming city, but I'm wondering, welcoming to who? I'd like to know how, if everyone is welcome, why barrier-free parking and business accessibility are always taking a backseat?"

Two local businesses were honored with 2016 Historic Preservation Improvement Awards for their contributions to the visual appeal of the community through reconstruction and redesign. Art Reach were recognized for its decision to blend two storefronts into one using decorative tile-work and projection signage. Rubbles Bar was recognized for completing its facade rehabilitation, including new windows, paint and signage.