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'Disability advocates sue Concord developer, Bagel Works'



Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011
This morning, three local people who use wheelchairs filed a federal lawsuit against the Jacob S. Ciborowski Family Trust, Bagel Works and the owner of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen demanding they improve disability access to Phenix Hall, a historic building on Main Street.

The building houses The Works Bakery Cafe and the League and is accessible now by a set of steps. The lawsuit was filed by Gina Colantuoni of Bow and Concord residents James Piet and Dean Davis. They are represented by the Disabilites Rights Center of Concord, which has been pushing for adequate access for months. 

Issues over access began last year when Mark Ciborowski, whose family owns the building, started a restoration project on the building's facade, including removing a black metal coverering and replacing the granite steps into the eatery and a vacant storefront next door.

The Disabilities Rights Center argued the construction was significant enough to trigger the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and require Ciborowski to install a ramp or other means of access for people with disabilities. Ciborowski disagreed, saying the work was mostly cosmetic and not a significant enough alteration to trigger the access requirement. He also said installing a ramp to the building was not technically feasible.

The two sides met in January to work out a solution, and Ciborowski installed a button on the building's exterior that will call an employee outside to serve a customer. Negotiations ultimately failed, prompting the lawsuit.