Lack of accessible parking questioned
Despite a recent streetscape that put curb cuts in place along Main St. along with benches and waste receptacles, one Marion resident says her husband cannot get into downtown businesses because there are no designated handicapped parking stalls.
Kari Newell’s husband, Ryan, lost both legs in 2008 when he was injured in Afghanistan.
“The handicapped accessibility downtown is shameful,” Newell said. “Our sidewalks are heavily unusable through much of town. There is no handicap parking.”
The issue is bigger than simply a lack of designated parking. There also are no extra-wide parking spaces to allow for equipment to remove a wheelchair from a van.
“Not only are there not marked spaces, but the parking spaces are too close together to get a wheelchair out,” she said.
Marion has an aging population, and will see more people needing ease of access, she said.
“As far as the city goes, I’m very disappointed,” Newell said. “We have vulnerable people in our community. They are not able to access what’s in our community.”
Improving accessibility would help everyone, she said.
“When we refinanced our house, in order to access the title company, we had to park in the back and use the back parking lot and go through the mud and gravel,” she said. “At the very minimum we should have parking.”
Newell said her husband has lived in Marion 10 years and has never been able to visit the thrift store.
“Our community is aging,” Newell said. “We really have to do better for our vulnerable people.”
Her husband seconds her thoughts.
“As a young disabled individual, still holding onto independence, it’s disappointing not being able to utilize many local businesses on Main,” Ryan Newell said. “There simply isn’t sufficient handicap accessibility or parking. Even if I find an open stall they are too small for me to get in and out in my wheel chair if there is a car parked next to me. Sidewalks running through town are in such poor condition I am unable to use most of them. I am forced to wheel in the street if I want to go out for a stroll. We could really do a better job of making our community more user-friendly and accessible for the elderly and disabled.”
Downtown Hillsboro has handicap parking spaces at the ends of the blocks, next to the curb cuts.
Mayor David Mayfield said he’s not thought about the issue.
“I don’t know if it’s under contemplation,” Mayfield said. “I haven’t even, honestly, thought about it. In my opinion, right next to the curb cut, that would be the logical place to put them.”
Todd Heitschmidt, who was mayor when Marion’s downtown streetscape was completed, said perhaps handicapped parking spots need to be repainted.
City administrator Roger Holter said he would have to talk to project engineer Darrin Neufeld and find out how designated parking spots fell through the cracks when streetscape work was done two years ago.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2021