Thursday, June 15, 2006
That's Just Wrong: Ramp
Tonight, two South Florida grandparents are feeling helpless at home. In fact, just walking inside the place.Is a painful experience. But when their grandson volunteered to build them a ramp, city leaders refused. Now, he says that's just wrong.
WSVN--For Martha Smith, home sweet home is a distant memory. Between arthritis and other ailments, this 75-year-old grandmother struggles just going up and down the stairs.
Martha Smith: "I have to hold onto this rail very hard or very tight."
But while Martha admits she may be showing her age, she knows the climb is even worse for her husband.
Not only does move poorly, he has to carry a walker.
Jason Carey: "Because if he wants to go outside and nobody's here he has to carry the walker down the stairs and up the stairs. And one day it's going to be bad I'm sure."
And that's why the couple's grandson Jason wants to take precaution.
His idea - make the access easier by building a ramp.
Martha Smith: "It would be much easier on all of us. Him with his walker."
The family followed all the neccessary steps.
They received permission from the homeowners association and applied for a permit with the city of Dania Beach.
Jason Carey: "I thought it would be a snap. It's not a permanent addition to the house. No plumbing. No electrical. It's just a wooden ramp."
But as we all know, when you're working with a bureaucracy, nothing is ever a snap.
Jason Carey: "I went there three times actually. The first time I didn't have the proper material. So, I went and got the proper material came back and she said I didn't have enough proper material so I was sent away again."
In the end, Jason's permit was rejected because the city claims it wasn't up to code.
It told Jason even though it was his grandparents' private property and his ramp appeared functional and practical... The rules are the rules.
His free labor wasn't qualified labor.
Now, he says That's Just Wrong.
Jason Carey: "It's nuts and bolts and wood."
What Jason didn't know is there are state laws that dictate how any handicap facility is built - whether it be a bathroom or a ramp to the front door
Stephen Page: "All structures are required to comply with the building code."
Seven News contacted a number of experts.
We even asked the mayor and city manager, but both declined to talk on camera.
What we did find out was jason and his grandparents first need to hire an architect to do the drawings.
Stephen Page: "A structural engineer is required to determine load up lift. 00:52 So this ramp doesn't pick up and blow away and crash into their neighbor's trailer."
But the ramp must not only meet Florida building code, it must also meet the standards of the ADA - Americans with Disability Act.
Bill Norkunas: "The Americans with Disabilities Act is based on standards that have been in place for decades right now. A ramp that is improperly designed they could hurt themselves."
After learning this new information, we found several businesses willing to help build the ramp for the Smith's.
They, however, have declined our invitation because a ramp that's up to code would consume their entire car port.
Now these grandparents will have to do what they've done for years - make the best of a brutal situation.
PLEASE SEND STORY IDEAS TO: