283 wheelchair seats to be added at Liberty Bowl - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

283 wheelchair seats to be added at Liberty Bowl

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Slowly but surely, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is getting rid of some reoccurring legal headaches accrued by the city over the years.

Beale Street ownership is settled.

A lawsuit against lending giant Wells Fargo has ended amicably.

The latest added to the list avoids what would have been a doomsday payment demanded by the federal government.

"I do believe that the proposed agreement is a win-win for everybody concerned," Mayor Wharton said Tuesday.

His relief was evident as he announced to the Memphis City Council an agreed to settlement in the seven-year long standoff between the city and U.S. Department of Justice to bring the Liberty Bowl Stadium into full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In a presentation given by architect and former councilman Tom Marshall, the 47-year-old football arena will be retrofitted to accommodate the handicapped at a cost of $12 million as opposed to $40 million the DOJ had threatened to seek by filing a lawsuit.

"Forty million dollars, and now we're down to a number that's really a lot less than that," said Robert Lipscomb, MHA Director of Special Projects. "The other thing I think is important, is that the spirit of cooperation with the Justice Department has been restored. We can move on with the fairgrounds plan because we really couldn't move on until we got this issue resolved."

As part of the agreement, which may begin as soon as January 2013, an additional 283 wheelchair spaces and an equal amount of companion seats will be built, along with lowering concession stand heights, making gates more accessible and expanding row 25 of the stadium to extend all the way around.

All of these adjustments will be made without losing more than 1,700 seats, far less than was projected years earlier.

"We will, at the end of the day, have in excess of 60,000, at the end of the day," Marshall said. "I might say that's not the 10,000 we heard about probably two or three years ago.

Since February the Wharton administration had diligently worked with all parties including local handicap accessible advocates to come up with a solution to a problem that had festered. Mayor Wharton says those efforts plus just being straightforward with the feds were the keys to ending the stalemate that began under former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's administration.

"We've worked with this issue off and on for over a good number of years," said Lewis Patrick, Memphis ADA representative. "I can't really tell you how long. As Mr. Lipscomb said, we've been working steadily on since
February ago."

"I said Robert, let's just come up with some terms we can afford to the satisfaction of the advocates. We have what I do believe is an excellent agreement," Mayor Wharton said.

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