Sewanee: ADA Compliance, University Avenue Redesign, Snow


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Jan. 22 Zoom meeting, the Sewanee Community Council learned about plans for increasing ADA compliant parking and the University Avenue redesign being pursued. The council also received an overview of how the campus deals with severe snow and ice conditions and University plans for future preparedness.

Asked to speak on ADA accessible parking, especially for access to All Saint’s Chapel, ADA Director Matt Brown said restoring some ADA accessible parking on University Avenue was under consideration. Brown explained renovation of the Wellness Complex resulted in five of six parking spaces on University Avenue being moved to the rear of the building. “We realized we had an issue when an employee broke her foot and couldn’t get to the building,” Brown said.

Elaborating, Acting Provost Scott Wilson said he had been in conversation with a civil engineer about reconfiguring the bike lanes and adding three or four ADA compliant parking spaces between the Wellness Complex and the Chapel to facilitate accessibility to those locations as well as to McClurg Dining Hall. The University Avenue “redesign” would need to be approved first by the Franklin County Road Commission then the Franklin County Commission. Wilson hoped for progress by the fall.

Brown encouraged community members to report barriers to ADA accessibility using the University website form on the ADA page (ADA Report A Barrier). He stressed configuring ADA parking needed to take into consideration both the distance to the destination and number of spots.

Robert Benton, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management, provided an overview of snow removal practices and the impact of the recent severe storm. “The state typically takes care of the highway from the interstate to the hospital, and then they try to help us on University Avenue,” Benton said. “The counties try to help us the best they can, but the counties were overwhelmed due to the extreme nature of the storm. Midway through the week Grundy County said, ‘we can’t help anymore.’ We learned a lot.” Equipment purchased in 1992 was nearing the end of its useful life, according to Benton, and purchasing deicing equipment was being considered.

A resident suggested reaching out to community partners and asking the sand plant to supply sand to improve traction. Benton explained sand would clog the sewer drains creating a future problem. Wilson said the University Emergency Management Team planned to meet to strategize “how to better position ourselves for the next storm.”

Reporting on the Traffic Safety Committee formed several months ago, council member Michael Payne stressed the importance of establishing criteria to evaluate traffic flow, citing the impact on bikes, pedestrians, and cars; the volume and speed of traffic; and whether or not there were sidewalks. The committee had discussed the benefits of “speed humps” which cost less than sidewalks and slowed traffic flow without negatively impacting the speed of emergency vehicles. Franklin County Road Commissioner Johnny Hughes had questioned if speed humps would impede snow removal. Payne suggested Sewanee might consider a “test case” with speed humps on a few streets and having a professional analyze Sewanee’s traffic safety. Superintendent of Leases and Community Relations Sallie Green said a small amount of funding might be available from the Community Service budget.

The council appointed Payne to serve on the Agenda Committee, replacing John Solomon whose term ended. The committee reviews potential agenda items submitted for the council’s consideration to determine if the topic is one the council should address or if the subject should be referred to another entity.

The annual community trash pick-up is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, with the starting time tentatively 9 a.m. at the Mountain Goat Trailhead.

The council meets next March 25.

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