Merriam city officials thought they were being progressive when they agreed to modernize the familiar disability parking symbol to a more dynamic image.
And Ikea thought it was being a good corporate citizen by embracing the new symbol and even painting it on the pavement of the parking lot of its new store that opens Wednesday.
But even the best of intentions can be frustrated by bureaucracy.
The Merriam City Council agreed on Monday to hold off on the change until it can get more information about what state or federal rules apply to such things — and whether it is placing the city or private businesses in jeopardy of being fined for noncompliance.
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“We got a lot of conflicting information about who is in charge of enforcing the signs,” said Merriam Mayor Ken Sissom.
The new symbol, which was adopted in July by the state of New York, depicts a person leaning forward in a stylized wheelchair instead of the inactive stick figure that has been in use for more than 45 years.
“Depicting the body in motion represents the symbolically active status of navigating the world,” according to The Accessible Icon Project on its website.
The organization says the new symbol is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but “we recommend you review state and local regulations before painting the Accessible Icon on parking spots or placing the sticker on signs.”
Merriam in July became the first Midwest city to adopt the new symbol. It was to be incorporated in an upgrade of traffic ordinances to be voted on at Monday’s council meeting. But Sissom said Merriam City Attorney Michelle Daise had found conflicting information as she researched the issue.
The City Council met in closed session Monday to discuss the issue, and members decided they needed more information.
“Our resolve hasn’t changed,” Sissom said. “We just want to make sure we don’t put our businesses at risk.”
Ikea painted the new symbol in its lot and was about to install signs with the new logo, but the Merriam city inspector would not approve them, said Joseph Roth, a spokesman for the company. Sissom said the inspector wasn’t aware the council had approved the change, but it worked out for the best now that the city is doing more research.
Finn Bullers, a local advocate for The Accessible Icon Project, said the setback is frustrating.
“This doesn’t deter us in any way,” he said. “It only adds fire to the fight.”