Bid OK’d for Music Hall elevator, projects

WARREN — Family restrooms and other improvements will accompany the addition of an elevator at Packard Music Hall.

The W.D. Packard Foundation approved a bid of $573,100 by United Contractors Inc. of Brookfield to do the work. The foundation board received five bids for the job from northeast Ohio companies, although one was rejected because it missed the deadline.

Board President James Fogarty said United Contractors’ bid was the lowest of the four accepted, but that wasn’t the only factor in the decision.

“We checked on their references, called a handful of previous customers and (they received) high marks. They couldn’t have gotten any higher,” Fogarty said.

Funding for the project comes from two grants awarded to the board — $500,000 from the ACI Senior Development Corp., an independent foundation that awards grants for projects beneficial to senior citizens, and $200,000 from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which awarded money to be used specifically for an elevator.

“We looked at the money we had and thought we might be able to do more than just put an elevator in,” Fogarty said. “It grew to include ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant front doors and some ADA seating in the balcony. There also will be a lobby for the elevator with a couple of family bathrooms.”

Jim Bugos, general manager at the music hall under the city of Warren’s agreement with JAC Management, said the elevator and the ADA improvements are important additions.

“I think it’s huge that the building will be ADA compliant,” he said. “The best way to explain it, if a male confined to a wheelchair came here with a female aide and needed to use the restroom, we aren’t set up for that. With a family restroom, we’ll be able to accommodate that.

“One of the biggest complaints since we’ve been in the building is the wheelchair seating is very limited. It can’t be anywhere except on the floor … With the elevator, they’ll have full access to the balcony, and those are some of the best seats in the building.”

The full-size elevator, which will have a 3,500-pound capacity, will be built on the southeast corner of the building and will eliminate the boardroom located there. Work should start next month, and Bugos said he expects the majority of the work to be completed by late spring / early summer, and he didn’t believe it would affect the W.D. Packard Concert Band’s outdoor concerts at the south lawn band shell starting in June.

“We’re excited,” Bugos said. “I spent about an hour with the contractor (Thursday) for a pre-construction meeting and walking through the building. We’re anxious to work with them and make it the least intrusive with the events coming up here.”