Can you dig it? Locals demand curb cut at popular entrance to Fort Greene Park

Can you dig it? Locals demand curb cut at popular entrance to Fort Greene Park

This corner just isn’t cutting it!

The city must create a curb cut at the popular Washington Park and DeKalb Avenue entrance to Fort Greene Park, so folks who have trouble getting around can access the green space without having to trek down the block, locals are demanding.

“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.”

Straub currently has to travel down the block to South Elliot Place to get on the pathway. She shops at the farmer’s market there every week, and must either take the winding route or risk messing up her wheelchair by backing over the raised sidewalk entry — which she says has already banged up her ride enough over the years.

“It’s hard enough as it is and I don’t need to put it through any more,” she said.

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the city has to install curb cuts at crosswalks when installing new sidewalks or fixing old ones, but it’s possible the pavement at this corner predates the 1990 act, according to a disability-rights advocate. Still, she says, there’s clearly a need for easier access, so officials should take a serious look at it either way.

“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.

Straub and a sympathetic stall-holder at the green market submitted a formal request to the Department of Transportation to carve out a ramp in July, and the agency has since put it on a list for “possible inclusion,” according to the local community board district manager Rob Perris.

But the Transportation Department says there are unique difficulties with chopping into this particular sidewalk — for one, it’s made with octagon brick pavers rather than plain old concrete, and secondly, it is part of the Fort Greene Historic District, so any changes there require the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s approval.

Straub’s market pal says reps at the agency have also previously told him it would also be tricky because of pipes under the ground there.

But at least they’re now aware of the problem, he says.

“The city is often too important or too big to notice things like that, but in this case they’ve been informed,” said Ed Goldman, who often sees people struggling with the curb when manning a stall for his activist group Fort Greene Peace.— with Ruth Brown

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill