Park Student Union reopens doors for disabled students after moving food, utensils

By Melanie Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 22, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat File Photo

Ali Mehrabian, civil engineering doctoral candidate, makes his way past the vegetable preparation area in the kitchen of the Park Student Union, the only entrance for disabled students to access the dining area. Union officials recently rearranged some of the food preparation areas to conform to county health codes.


Disabled students once again have access to the Park Student Union after its disabled entrance was closed two weeks ago because it violated health codes.

The entrance reopened Friday after being closed since Oct. 4. Health officials found the entrance in violation of Pima County Title 8, which prohibits unnecessary traffic through the food preparation and utensil wash areas of a kitchen.

Because the only elevator is located at the rear of the building, disabled students had to pass through the kitchen where food containers, cutting boards and refrigerators were along the pathway to the dining area.

Union officials and the Pima County Health Department completed negotiations last week to relocate the vegetable preparation area into the bakery area, said Joe Sottosanti, assistant director of facilities management and operations with the Memorial Stude nt Union.

Eric Olson, optical engineering sophomore, who initiated original concerns about the difficult access through the Park Union for disabled students said, "I think the university did a good job, especially since they were up against the health department."

Dan Adams, director of the Memorial Student Union, said, "The situation was handled quickly by everyone and that's the positive thing."

In addition to moving the preparation areas, doubled-sided refrigerator doors will only be accessible from the side that is not open to the walkway that disabled students will use, said Denise Binkley, dining services supervisor.

"Other than the lack of space we have for relocation (of the vegetable area), it is not an inconvenience," Binkley said.

"Now we will have to be more aware of the students coming through the kitchen," she said.

Brian McCraken, family studies sophomore, said, "I'm really happy that the Park Union is now open again."

"Two reasons that the university fixed the situation so quickly is one, because it is against the law," McCraken said, "and two, maybe the university is trying to work with us."

Sottosanti said there is mention of an new elevator for the Park Union, but renovations are pending until a proposal on the fate of the Memorial Student Union is received at the end of this month.

Once the decision to renovate or demolish the Memorial Student Union is accepted, officials will know to what extent the Park Union will be needed and used during construction.