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Building elevator in need of repair

Access to second floor difficult for students

By Lissette Argenal, staff writer
On February 13, 2013

At lunchtime many students rush to get a quick bite to eat at the Switch café. But not student Vanessa Paniagua, whose wheelchair makes it difficult for her to reach the second floor of the Applied Arts Building because the elevator is out of service.
"It is uncomfortable because the elevator is not working," Paniagua said. "I hope the elevator gets fixed so I can go to any place I need to go, like going to class or getting food."
The Applied Arts Building elevator has been out of service since the first week of instruction (Jan. 14) due to a broken cylinder that needs to be replaced. The mechanism is used to support the elevator when rising and lowering.
"It's not the perfect situation. It's temporary," Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King said. "There are folks that can help (students) like the Police Services department and DSPS. And our president immediately supports funding to get things fixed when things get broken."
According to King, the elevator will not be fixed for at least another month and a half - until the All American Elevator Company receives the replacement cylinder.
"They will order the cylinder from Los Angeles and they anticipate it will take four to five weeks to get the cylinder and another week to get the work done," King said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires prompt maintenance to any broken elevator and requires all lifts to be routinely inspected. Failure to do so could result in a violation of ADA code 407.
The college is required to go through a bidding process in order to repair broken equipment - such as the AA Building's elevator. The process begins by companies submitting bids through the District Office in Martinez, at which point a decision will be made to accept a bid.  
King said the school chose the All American Elevator Company's bid because its price was the lowest.
The company just completed the project for the Liberal Arts Building elevator, which was out of service since October and is set to resume operation Thursday.
"The good news is the LA Building elevator is scheduled to be up and running for Valentine's Day," King said.
However, for the next several weeks students like Paniagua will need to find alternatives to dining at the Switch and the Three Seasons restaurant,, or struggle to reach them, as well as classes they may have on the second level of the AA Building.
Other buildings on Contra Costa College's campus have also been a hassle for students with a disability to navigate because of non-working or non-existing elevators - the lack of an elevator in the Gym Annex Building, for example.
As a part of the 2002 Measure A Bond, an elevator was supposed to be installed in the GA Building. While the college expected the elevator to be installed by the end of fall 2012, the project is yet to begin.
The GA Building is more than 40 years old.
West Contra Costa Unified School District Instructional Assistant Flor Sanchez, who aids Vanessa Paniagua, said, "Something needs to be done to remedy these problems.
"It's frustrating that our students can't go to the places they want to go because the elevators are broken," she said.
When CCC's campus was built 63 years ago the administrators did not have to follow the policies and codes that the college must follow today, following the passage of the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA), in 1990.
The ADA guarantees access to public facilities for all citizens.


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