Metro-East News

Settlement calls for Belle-Clair Fairgrounds to improve accessibility

Handrails will need to be installed in the grandstand areas for the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds and Expo Center to comply with a settlement agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office.

The United States Attorney’s Office for Southern Illinois announced the settlement after investigating a complaint alleging the Belleville fairgrounds failed to remove barriers that prohibited people with disabilities from entering the grandstand.

Kathy Weir, the office manager for Belle-Clair, said grandstand officials received a complaint when a man wanted to sit higher in the grandstands.

“We’ve never had any problems, never had any complaints,” Weir said. “It ended up being one man, who wasn’t happy, and that started the ball rolling.”

The fairgrounds has agreed to complete improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by Sept. 30, 2017.

We’ve never had any problems, never had any complaints. It ended up being one man, who wasn’t happy, and that started the ball rolling.

Kathy Weir, Belle Clair office manager

Under the agreement, Belle-Clair has to install handrails to the entire granstand area.

Materials alone for the handrails on the west side of the grandstands is estimated to cost $6,000. The cost of labor was not available, Weir said.

“It’s going to cost quite a bit,” Weir said.

The stairs at the ground level of the grandstand also have to be adjusted. The agreement states the grandstands fluctuate, causing the first step to be as high as 18 inches above the ground.

The agreement also calls for adequate accessible parking spaces, and notice must be given to vendors, lessees and security that no one may park in those spaces without proper decals or tags.

Belle-Clair also has to provide signage pointing out accessible restrooms.

Weir said the racetrack already has appropriate signage for restrooms, and adequate accessible parking.

She added vendors parking in accessible spots is not a problem.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

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