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Residents Asking for Easier Access to Fort Greene Park with a Curb Cut

March 8, 2017

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The entrance to Fort Greene Park located at Washington Park and DeKalb Avenue needs a curb cut to allow easier access to people in wheel chairs or pushing strollers, say residents.

“It’s a spot in the community that people use,” said Anne-Elizabeth Straub, a Fort Greene resident who uses a wheelchair. “It’s not just wheelchairs, people with baby carriages, people with any kind of walkers.”

Currently residents who want to visit the park but can’t make it over the high curb must walk about a block away to the South Elliot Place entrance to get on the pathway. In her wheelchair Straub must either take the curving route to the farmer’s market she visits weekly, or else take a chance damaging her wheelchair by backing up over the curb.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that the city must install curb cuts at crosswalks when they are either repairing old curbs or installing new ones. It is possible that this crosswalk is older than the 1990 law, and therefore has not yet had the cut added. But disability rights activists say this crosswalk is clearly in desperate need of an upgrade. They would like city officials to examine the issue and take action.

“I would certainly hope the city would pay attention to missing curb cuts in a very public area with lots of activity when there are two adjacent walkways,” said Elizabeth Grossman, an attorney with advocacy group Disability Rights New York.

In July Straub and a sympathetic stall operator from the farmer’s market submitted an official request to the Department of Transportation to upgrade the curb. The local community board district manager Rob Perris said the curb has been added to the list for “possible inclusion” for an upgrade.

Unfortunately, there are two problems with adding a curb cut, according to the DOT. The first is that the curb there is made with octagon brick pavers and not ordinary concrete. The second issue is that the curb is part of the Fort Greene Historic District, requiring any changes to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. There might also be a problem with pipes located under the curb.

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