People with disabilities or just difficulty navigating stairs have a small reason to cheer this week with the news that the Dukes County Commission has authorized funds to fix the wheelchair ramp and lift at the county courthouse.

But the $210,000 appropriation, which also includes money for much-needed air conditioning in the upstairs courtroom, is little more than a long overdue band-aid for a building that is sadly in need of major surgery.

The Gazette detailed the critical access issues at the courthouse last month after Chilmark resident Dianne Holt went there to observe a trial and nearly fell on the slippery wheelchair ramp. The lift had been broken for months.

This week, Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson and district court clerk-magistrate Liza Williamson interrupted their work to appear before the commission and plead for action on the repairs, saying members of the public are being denied their basic rights.

Built in 1858, the brick edifice on Main Street in Edgartown is among the oldest operating courthouses in the state — and one of the most run down, according to a draft capital master plan issued in April by the Massachusetts Trial Court, which estimated it would cost $6.2 million to renovate it.

But because the majority of the state’s hundred or so courthouses are also in bad repair, the figure is a small drop in a giant bucket of $3.2 billion the court system says is needed to bring the state’s entire trial court infrastructure up to standard. It is not clear when or if the state legislature will consider the court’s proposal.

Complicating the problem is the fact that the Edgartown courthouse is owned by Dukes County, not the state, one of nineteen courthouses statewide that remained in county hands even after the state took over the trial courts in 1979. The building still houses the Registry of Deeds, but the rest of the courthouse is leased to the state.

According to the trial court, the state can’t “invest” in county buildings without legislative approval; on the other hand, the county has little incentive to pour money in buildings that serve another master.

Making the courthouse minimally accessible to all residents is the least the county should do, and its action this week is welcome.

But it’s time to engage the state in a serious discussion about taking over the courthouse and start pressing the legislature to make good on its pledge of equal justice for all.