Access project completed at Fortuna's River Lodge

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

The city of Fortuna is committed to ensuring equal access for all, and has just completed one of several projects to improve access at city facilities.

A wheelchair lift has been installed at the River Lodge Conference Center, providing access to the stage area, which previously could only be accessed by using stairs. The $35,000 needed for the project was appropriated from the Capital Improvement Program and integrated into the city budget.

"We are trying to ensure that all facilities are up to code and provide access for everyone," said Fortuna City Manager Regan Candelario. "It is a priority for us to be compliant, and we have a number of other projects planned throughout the city." One such project will improve the entrance to city hall and resurface the city hall parking lot.

A Garaventa Lift model Artira inclined platform wheelchair lift was installed at the River Lodge Conference Center in October. Garaventa Lift is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company.

City of Fortuna engineering staff researched possible solutions to providing access to the stage area for persons with disabilities and limited mobility. The inclined wheelchair lift was selected since it can easily fit with most stairways and does not require extensive renovation or special construction.

Kevin Carter is an Engineering Tech III with the City of Fortuna. He said the lift can be stored around the corner from the stairs.

"By utilizing the feature of storing the unit around the corner, this allows the stairs to completely remain, and fire egress needs continue to be satisfied," he said.

City employees provided all the labor and modifications needed to the River Lodge Conference Center for installation, including providing 220-volt power, and minor modifications to provide for support structures to be connected to the concrete floor underneath the stairs.

A permit was required from the State Division of Occupational Health & Safety, and when that was obtained two weeks ago, the lift became fully operational.

The same wheelchair lift has been installed at the new auditorium at the College of the Redwoods, which opened in August of last year.

"The installation at these facilities (River Lodge and College of the Redwoods) ensures that elevator mechanics within the area will be well versed with the unit," Carter said.