Sep 242018

Nix library on South Carrollton Avenue ( file photo)

After years of requests from Carrollton neighborhood leaders and accessibility advocates, city officials are now considering allocating a half-million dollars to make Nix Library wheelchair-accessible with a new lift at the front entrance.

The request for “Nix Library ADA Accessibility” was made by the New Orleans Public Library board this summer as part of the city’s annual Capital Improvement Project budgeting process. The project would include remodeling the front entrance to install a hydraulic lift, and an interior addition with an “ADA compliant bathroom” and a new janitorial closet, according to the budget request.

The city planners who evaluate each budget request frequently reject most items outright (such as the library board’s other requests, for renovations to the children’s library and a new space for the main library archives) recommended allocating $503,363 for the project in 2019, using bond money the city has already secured.

“Capital Projects Administration noted that because there are leftover bond funds from 2015, for the dedication to public library projects, these funds could be allocated in whole,” the capital-improvement budget notes. “Though the amount would be above the requested amount, the remainder could be used for contingency.”

Library officials and city planners met in July with a group of residents in favor of the project, who favored the idea of a lift over a ramp, according to records from the meeting.

“There are concerns the ramp would be too steep and inaccessible to many ADA needed individuals,” the report states. “The representative from the department noted that request amount does not just include the lift but includes improvements to accommodate the lift at the front of the building and the public restroom.”

After a celebration of renovations at Nix Library last year turned into a demonstration for access for disabled patrons, city officials promised to begin studying the issues. Members of Carrollton neighborhood associations have also joined the callthe entire draft of the five-year Capital Improvement Plan is set as part of Tuesday’s meeting of the City Planning Commission, which starts at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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