Ramp Removal Brews Up Dilemma (Woman’s access to coffee stand made harder after shopping center’s decision)

(The following is excerpted from the Daily Courier, August 5, 2016, by Patricia Snyder of the Daily Courier) An effort to help a customer at a local coffee kiosk has run into problems, but has also started a conversation about access at the Grants Pass Shopping Center. As she does most days, Emily Ice climbed off of the blue Josephine Community Transit bus at the Grants Pass Shopping Center this morning, using a walker because she has cerebral palsy. She made her way along the sidewalk and down the driveway, then she navigated curbs on a long sidewalk that separates the rest of the parking lot from the area where the Dutch Bros. stand is located. Brendan Larson, assistant manager of the Dutch Bros. stand at the shopping center, said he and Manager Zac Ward noticed the way Ice struggles to get to their business for her daily coffee before starting work at Fire Mountain Gems, located across E Street. Larson said they asked themselves, “how can we make her life easier?” They decided to build ramps to help her get over the concrete barrier, and presented them to her on Wednesday for her 24th birthday. They used plate metal, bending a lip on each ramp to fit on the top of the curb, with holes for screws to anchor the ramp to the concrete. “Emily’s ramp,” the black metal reads. “Please stay off.” They installed the ramps before she arrived Wednesday morning (see http://tinyurl.com/h8ne498). Larson said the Dutch Bros. employees were told later Wednesday that the ramps had to be removed because they didn’t meet safety requirements. “We’re not engineers,” Larson said. “We just built them.” Although Dutch Bros. rents space in the lot, they don’t own the property, Larson said, indicating he understood the removal issues. However, he’s hopeful that shopping center officials and Dutch Bros. corporate officials can work out some alternative, such as a ramp in the area of the steps from E Street. Grants Pass Shopping Center officials could not return messages requesting comment. “I love that this has been an eye-opener for people,” Ice said. She expressed hope that awareness would “change the world one ramp at a time because that’s what we need to do.”