SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 28, 2012

Handicapped-accessibility work starts at Beverly golf club

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The city has begun complying with state orders to make the Beverly Golf & Tennis Club clubhouse handicapped-accessible.

Workers have started installing two wheelchair lifts inside the clubhouse and reconstructing the wheelchair ramp outside the building.

The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board ordered the city last July to make the repairs after the board received a complaint from Manny Barros, the former operator of the city-owned club.

Barros told the board that there was no handicapped access to the second floor of the clubhouse, which has a function room for 150 people, and that the handicapped ramp was too steep and falling apart.

The access board gave the city until Dec. 31 to make the proper repairs or face fines of up to $1,000 per day. John Dunn, the city’s finance director who serves as the city’s liaison to the club, said the work will not be finished until April, but he does not expect the city to be fined for missing the deadline.

“These are the repairs we were planning on doing anyway before somebody dropped a dime on us,” Dunn said.

Officials from the Architectural Access Board did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Mary Margaret Moore, executive director of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann, said it’s important that the city make the required repairs. Her agency has been notified by the Architectural Access Board of the violations.

“If the ramp is not at the right pitch, then people are going to be hurt, even someone pushing a baby carriage,” Moore said. “That’s why we have these carefully thought-out regulations.”

The city has been in violation of accessibility laws since 2003, when it spent $400,000 on repairs to the clubhouse. When an owner spends more than 30 percent of the value of a building on repairs, the building must be brought into compliance with accessibility laws, according to the Architectural Access Board.

But the violation only came to the state’s attention when Barros filed his complaint in June 2011.

Mayor Bill Scanlon had removed Barros as the club’s operator in 2009 and filed a civil lawsuit in March 2011 in an attempt to collect $600,000 in rent that it says Barros owes the city under his contract to operate the club.

Barros has said he had trouble making a profit in part because it was difficult to rent out the second-floor function room due to its lack of accessibility.

Dunn said the installation of the two lifts and the reconstruction of the handicapped ramp will cost about $450,000. The city will borrow the money and pay it off with money from the Beverly Golf & Tennis Club enterprise fund.

The fund’s money comes from the rent paid to the city by the club’s current operator, Golf Facilities Management. The company paid the city $340,000 this year, the third year of its five-year contract.

The clubhouse was built in 1910 and is listed on the state and national registers of historic places. It includes two function rooms, a restaurant, a pub and locker rooms. The club, located at 134 McKay St., has an 18-hole golf course and 10 outdoor tennis courts.

The city is installing two lifts instead of an elevator because the structure of the building makes it difficult to fit an elevator. One of the lifts will go to the function room on the second floor, while the other will go to the men’s locker room in the basement.

Dunn said the city will also make other changes requested by the state regarding accessibility, including widening doorways and installing new bathroom fixtures.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.