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Chipping in for wheelchair accessibility

County OKs $55,000 for lift at Tracy’s Veterans Memorial Center

Photo by Deb Gau On Tuesday, the city of Tracy requested funding to help install a wheelchair lift to improve accessibility for both students and seniors at the Veterans Memorial Center located on Morgan Street

MARSHALL — The timing wouldn’t work for CARES grant funding, but Lyon County commissioners said they would still chip in to help pay for a wheelchair lift at the Veterans Memorial Center in Tracy. After hearing a request from the city of Tracy on Tuesday, the county board voted to approve a total of $55,000 in funding for the lift — part in the form of a grant, and part in a zero-interest loan to be paid back to the county over five years.

Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said the city was requesting CARES funding from Lyon County to install the wheelchair lift at the VMC. Tracy Area Public Schools is currently holding some eighth-grade classes at the VMC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One classroom is on the second floor of the VMC. “Right now, that’s only accessible by stairs,” Hansen said.

While the students’ presence at the VMC is temporary, Hansen said, “There’s a long-term benefit for making that building accessible for the general public.” The city of Tracy is also planning to sell its Multi-Purpose Center building and possibly move services like Meals On Wheels to a kitchen on the second floor of the VMC, he said.

The cost of installing a lift would be $38,900, plus an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 for engineering and site preparation work, Hansen said.

Plans to sell the Multi-Purpose Center building for a new cafe and move the senior center and Lutheran Social Services meals to the VMC have met with some controversy. Last week, around a dozen Tracy area seniors attended a Tracy City Council meeting and said they didn’t want a second-floor senior center, according to reports in the Tracy Headlight-Herald.

At the Lyon County board meeting, County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg said he didn’t think it would be possible for the lift project to receive CARES grant funding, because the work wouldn’t be complete by a Dec. 1 deadline. Hansen said it would take several weeks to get just to get the wheelchair lift in.

However, county commissioners said they did support getting basic wheelchair access to the VMC building. It would also have economic development benefits for Tracy, said Commissioner Gary Crowley.

Commissioner Rick Anderson moved that the county grant $40,000 in reserve funding to the city of Tracy for the wheelchair lift, and that an additional $15,000 be paid back over five years at zero interest. The money paid back to the county would be placed in a revolving loan fund, Anderson said.

Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said the county would need to establish a revolving loan fund for the money paid back from the loan.

“I think that should be done at our next meeting,” said Commissioner Charlie Sanow.

Commissioners approved both the grant and loan funding for the wheelchair lift.

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