Former Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry protested at city hall, and then made a complaint in July based on what he said is a deficient design for the new Anna Maria City Pier.
Aubry, who also is an architect, filed a U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act complaint based on the design and plans for the new Anna Maria City Pier walkway and T-end that lack handrails.
The ADA was put into law in 1990 to alleviate discrimination based on disability. The purpose of the act is to give people with disabilities equal rights and opportunities in public life, including, jobs, schools, transportation and any public or private places open to the general public.
The ADA includes building code requirements, which Aubry said the city will not meet if it constructs the new pier as planned.
Aubry filed his complaint July 15 with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., writing the city is discriminating against the disabled by refusing to install a handrail along the pier walkway.
“It’s not safe walking on a pier over water without a railing, especially if you’re blind,” Aubry said July 31 in an interview with The Islander.
Aubry points to photos of the pier dating back to 1924 that depict a handrail. The pier was originally built in 1911 to promote tourism to the city.
He says that if the city wants to replicate the original pier — and provide safety for people who want to enjoy the amenities — it should have a handrail.
He initially presented his concern about the lack of handrails on the pier in January to the city commission and mayor. But, he said, city officials did not give him a response.
At the time, Commissioner Brian Seymour told The Islander the city officials heard Aubry’s concern, but most of the public was against a railing.
Mayor Dan Murphy told The Islander Aug. 1 that the city has followed government guidelines for construction, including ADA regulations.
The pier also is a boat landing, permitting boats to dock and tie-off. And, according to ADA regulations, boat landings do not require handrails, according to Murphy.
Aubry told The Islander he would not consider other action until after the ADA processed his complaint.
As of Aug. 2, The Islander was unable to reach the DOJ with regard to Aubry’s ADA complaint.