Letter: Lift this burden

Small churches, nonprofits and municipalities are proud to have handicapped-accessible facilities, but the cost has become a crippling burden.

Every elevator and lift in Massachusetts must now be inspected once every 12 months. The requirement is the same whether the lift goes 20 floors or 20 feet or whether it carries two people a week or 2,000. And elevator inspections are expensive — at least $1,000 to cover the cost of the state inspector and the private elevator technicians that must be present.

Most accessibility elevators and lifts in small churches, nonprofits and libraries are little used. At our two churches, we estimate that each inspection costs about $5 per use per elevator. Safety is important, but surely the time between inspections should be related to the number of trips these lifts make.

There are several bills in the Legislature that would help alleviate this situation, either by allowing small institutions to apply for waivers to extend the inspection period or by waiving the state portion of the inspection fee for nonprofits and churches. (Our thanks to Sen. Rosenberg and Reps. Kulik and Mark, who have each sponsored one or more of these bills.) However, in order for any relief to be legislated this year, the Joint Committee on Public Safety Committee and Public Safety must report the bills out favorably by April 23.

If your church, nonprofit, library or school is struggling to pay for its elevator inspections, please contact the chairs of this committee, Sen. Timilty and Rep. Naughton at the Statehouse in Boston urging them to act soon on the bills, and ask your state House representatives to contact them as well.

DAVID CRUTCHFIELD

Belchertown United Church of Christ

JUDY MARKLAND

Whately Congregational Church

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