City reacts to double amputee incident - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City leaders react to double amputee incident

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A south Georgia double amputee is still upset after he was denied access to the Civic Center.

We told you Friday night that 56-year old Lee Wingfield didn't make it in to see the Bill Cosby performance.

He blames a thoughtless person who parked illegally, but he also blames the staff at the civic center.

The Albany Recreation and Parks Department oversees the civic center. The staff referred WALB to City Attorney Nathan Davis.

They said they were going to meet with the police chief and city officials, but Davis had know knowledge of that when I talked to him late this afternoon.

Lee and Vernita Wingfield plead for answers.

"It hurts my feelings being like this," said Wingfield. "I should have had somebody help me."

Albany Recreation and Parks staff told them they'd meet to discuss the problem. City Attorney Nathan Davis hoped he'd be notified.

"I haven't had contact with anybody as far as setting up future meetings," said Davis.

Wingfield arrived at the civic center at 6:30 Friday night. An illegally parked car blocked his access to the entrance ramp. When he asked to enter on the ground level, employees said the elevator wasn't open to the public and he'd have to pay extra to sit on the floor.

"Obviously it's a special circumstance so there ought to be somebody on scene for any major event that like who can make those type of big level decisions," Davis noted.

Even though there are three handicapped entrances, there is only one ramp Wingfield could use because it meets regulations. The ramp inclines one inch every foot.  

There was just one problem. The SUV blocked his chance to see Bill Crosby.

"That opportunity coming again may be slim to none," Wingfield added.

Supervisors responded about an hour after his complaint. APD issued a ticket, but said they couldn't have the car towed. The Civic Center is public property, but police now say it's up to the Civic Center to have a car towed.

"I think it was correctly handled by APD because there wasn't any blue or a sign," Davis said.

"We have officers who can enforce those laws and they refused to enforce them for somebody who was in need," Wingfield noted.

Wingfield doesn't know when or if he'll ever come back to the Civic Center. He just wants to prevent another person with a disability from running into the same roadblock.

Civic Center supervisors offered to let Wingfield in about an hour after the event started but he refused. We still don't know if or when city leaders will meet to discuss this issue.

Up until a year and a half ago, the Civic Center always had a full-time director.

The city had trouble finding a replacement for John Mazzola when he left in March of 2010. In  February, the city placed the civic center under the management of Recreation and Parks.