A motion of contempt has been filed against the City of Williamsport for its alleged failure to meet requirements laid out in the court’s accessibility consent decree, which was ordered in March.
The motion was filed on July 6 by the Center for Independent Living of North Central Pennsylvania, Adapt, Thomas Grieco, Tima Cummings, Jay Harper and Marie Prince, with the Middle District Judge Matthew Brann.
The group filed a lawsuit against the city in July 2020, claiming that City Hall did not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A settlement was reached in March, and Brann then filed a consent decree ordering the city to make the necessary renovations.
The key claims in the contempt motion pertain to the city’s alleged failure to obtain an accessibility consultant with appropriate ADA access qualifications, and the lack of an adequate work plan for the renovation efforts.
City Mayor Derek Slaughter declined to comment as there is still an ongoing legal case.
The city appointed John K. Brezan as its consultant, but the motion claims he does not possess the qualifications required to ensure the building meets the proper ADA standards.
“We provided referrals for external professionals who met those qualifications and the city never reached out to them,” said Misty Dion, executive director of the Center for Independent Living. “Once our attorney stepped in… the city told us they retained an accessibility consultant outside of the joint committee even though the consent decree required it to be a decision made by the joint committee.”
Brezan has 25 years of experience as an inspector and code official; however, the motion alleges that his experience does not include specific ADA requirements.
Dion said that moving forward with upgrades to the roughly 130-year-old building without the proper ADA specifications would mean expensive fixes and unnecessary delays.
A second complaint alleges that the city has not created an adequate work plan detailing the timeline of work. The work plan “must include but not be limited to: tasks/activities, identification of persons responsible, and milestones reasonably timed and spaced over the implementation period to ensure that access is maximally and incrementally afforded during the process.”
The motion has not yet been approved by Brann.