by Andrew Martin
The Town of Wolcott is seeking to make its polling place more accessible for handicap voters. Town officials have submitted an application for a grant that if approved would allow them to make the Wolcott Town Offices, which is the official polling place in town, more accessible to anyone with a disability.
According to Town Clerk Linda Martin, the application submitted by herself and several other Wolcott officials seeks to garner funding to install metal handicap handrails on the wheelchair ramp that currently gives access to the town offices and polling station. Each town applying for funding can request no more than $5,000 per year. On their current application Wolcott requested a total of $3,937.57 that would be used to install the metal handrails.
Money for such projects is available through the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, which received the money via the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA). Funding from the act can be used only on buildings owned by municipalities and since the process first started each year the focus of the awarded funding is aimed at a different portion of the voting process. In the past, Wolcott has been awarded funding to purchase a vote tabulator and a laptop to aid in the voting process.
The need for better handicap accessibility at the Wolcott Town Offices became known after the group Disability Rights Vermont conducted a Polling Place Accessibility Survey at the town offices and was able to determine that the current handicap ramp had a slope that was pitched slightly higher than American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards required. When town officials heard about the newest round of HAVA funding that would be made available they quickly submitted an application for funding to help correct this issue.
The deadline to submit an application for the current round of HAVA funding was February 18, and Wolcott should be hearing back on whether or not they will receive funds by March 15. If the town’s application is approved than the funds will be available on April 5. Once town officials know if they have been awarded the money, they will put the job out to bid, and when a contractor is selected their first task will be to build the metal handrails. According to Martin the rails would be installed by the contractor whenever the weather allows it later this spring.