Buffalo's Common Council chamber is a landmark - a soaring mass of stone, concrete, sculpture and stained glass. It is not handicap accessible, but that is going to change.
The chamber has stone stairs that are not easy to navigate for anyone - and no way could someone in a wheelchair get from the walkway around the top down to the floor to the podium and councilmember desks. Council President Darius Pridgen said the answer to that has been taking a wireless microphone to the person.
That is going to change.
"There may one day be a person who is elected to these chambers who needs to get downstairs and, right now, there is no wheelchair access to the Council floor," Pridgen said.
The Public Works Department is now taking bids on building an elevator from the 12th floor to the 13th floor to an entrance that will be built onto the Council floor.
Pridgen said the design was very difficult because the Council chamber is a landmark and any changes are nearly impossible. Building the elevator up from space in City Comptroller Mark Schroeder's office complex kept the room as it was designed and also allowed handicapped access.
"I look forward to the day when they will be able to come on the floor, receive awards on the floor and be able to participate in government on the same level of the chamber as everyone else," he said.
Pridgen said he expects work to start in late spring. Cost depends on what the construction bids reveal.