SCRANTON -- Two elevators at a downtown parking garage in Scranton have not worked for at least eight months, and people who have a hard time using stairs often don't learn the elevators are out until they've parked on an upper floor.
A recent trip for a medical appointment left a 77-year-old man from Wayne County angry after he paid to park in a lot and then had no choice but to walk down a flight of stairs.
John Lilley of Waymart has the limp of a man whose decades of hard work have taken a toll on his body.
"I have artificial knees and hips, and steps are hard to do," he said.
Lilley had a medical appointment in downtown Scranton last week and parked at the ABM garage on North Washington Avenue
"Pulled in and drove around and drove around and I went to the second floor," Lilley recalled. "Wanted to park on the first floor of the garage, but he says all the handicapped spots were taken."
Once parked on the second floor, he wanted to take the elevator to North Washington Avenue.
"When I went to go to the elevator, I noticed there's a sign on the elevators, 'out of order.'"
And like so many others who park there, Lilley did not see the sign posted at the garage's entrance warning the elevator isn't working.
John Teeple of Spring Brook Township parked on the second floor, went to the elevator, then found out he had to take the stairs.
"And the hallway doesn't smell too good either, but that's besides the point," said Teeple.
Other drivers say the street-level sign is hard to see when making a turn on a one-way street busy with pedestrians.
"I would consider this a violation (of the Americans with Disabilities Act)," said Keith Williams.
Williams, of the Center for Independent Living in Scranton, is an advocate for the disabled. He says it's inexcusable that the elevators have not been working for at least eight months.
As for the warning sign outside the lot, Williams notes it guides people to another parking garage owned by the parking company, a garage on the other side of Courthouse Square roughly six blocks away.
"If that person with a disability has an appointment, or works, or wants to shop or go out to eat…why make them park that far away?" Williams asked.
We went to ABM's Scranton office to get the parking company's side of the story. Workers said they were not allowed to talk to Newswatch 16, adding we'd get a response from corporate offices.
So far, we haven't.
John Lilley says the company best response would be fixing the elevators soon.
"I just think it's completely wrong, and I can't walk two or three blocks," he said.
Lilley says streetside handicapped parking spots in downtown Scranton can be hard to find during business hours, which is why he says a garage with a working elevator would make it easier for people who really need it.
Update: May 17, 2017 at 10:07AM
The National Development Council, the non-profit that operates ABM Parking in Scranton has issued this statement.
The National Development Council, through its nonprofit affiliate, is eager to commence repairs for the Linden Parking Garage elevator, which was vandalized when the parking garage system was in receivership. The bankrupt Scranton Parking Authority was not able to make repairs at the time of the vandalism, and the elevator was badly damaged.
The National Development Council worked with the City of Scranton to refinance the parking system, and through this transaction, NDC is dedicating approximately $6M to capital improvements. Bids for these repairs are currently underway. Bids for the Linden elevator repair are due May 24 with work commencing June 5th.
In the meantime, a number of steps have been taken to ensure that the Linden Garage is fully compliant with ADA requirements for reserved parking spaces for people with handicapped placards. NDC has instructed the parking garage operator, ABM Parking, to add five parking spaces to be reserved for drivers with valid placards, which brings the total number of handicapped spaces to 16.
NDC is sensitive to the fact that, as repairs commence on the Linden Garage, more than just handicapped people are affected by the lack of a working elevator. Therefore, NDC has also instructed ABM Parking to work with anyone, such as elderly drivers, who may not have an official handicapped placard but still may be inconvenienced by not being able to park on the ground floor. ABM is committed to providing excellent service and will assist with anyone who requests additional help. Please contact Patrick Kulick with any special parking requests at Patrick.Kulick@abm.com.