It is hard to imagine in today's day and age why any publicly funded institution would undertake a remodeling project that interferes with the use of a handicapped-accessible door and passenger drop-off area. But this is exactly what the University of Minnesota Duluth did with its $2 million renovation of Ordean Court.
My 89-year-old mother and I are longtime season ticket holders for the UMD theater. On Nov. 7 we arrived to attend a play only to find that the circular drive at Ordean Court had been blocked off to traffic. I tried to let my mom out at the new turnaround area, and she tripped over a 6½-inch curb and fell.
Since then, I have written to UMD and asked what could be done to get my mother safely into the theater for future plays. In response, I was forwarded a note from the director of Facilities Management. It suggested “they get dropped off at the curb cut.” And it stated that, “We will be sure the walks are clear from (the) turnaround to the front doors. … If someone needs to get directly into a building they could use (the) campus center entrance.”
But I could find no curb cut at the new turnaround and don’t believe it’s a safe or accessible drop-off. Campus Center is a long way from the theater. The closest curb cut to the theater front doors now appears to be at a loading dock almost a block away.
UMD's website says this about the Ordean Court renovation: “We’re creating a lot of outside spaces with WiFi hubs for students to study and gather.” While this expensive project might create a nice place for students to hang out on warm summer days, it has left elderly and disabled theater patrons out in the cold.