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

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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
Updated 9:00 am, March 8, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Fort Greene resident from Fort Greene says:
I'm not sure I understand this article. The Greenmarket is outside Fort Greene Park, on the sidewalk. And there is no entrance to the park on S. Elliott; the other DeKalb entrance is at S. Portland. There's a curb cut on Washington Park at DeKalb where one of the Greenmarket farmers usually has a portable metal ramp. Also, the photograph accompanying the article doesn't show the entrance to FG Park that's discussed in the article. What gives?
March 9, 2017, 12:51 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Hope they are smart enough to put a drain there - otherwise there will be a puddle and an ice sheet when it freezes.
March 9, 2017, 2:53 pm
Anne-Elizabeth Straub from Downtown/MetroTech says:
I want to thank the Brooklyn Paper for providing coverage of this issue.

The statement about the pavement possibly predating the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act adds nothing to the overall point of the article, in my opinion. That statement and the comment about the hexagonal paving stones might be possible reasons for delay, but there have been no public statements that those are actual objections, nor that they are serious impediments, in and of themselves.

The writer of the first comment is correct, the name of the street was given incorrectly. The corner being described is Washington Park and DeKalb, though the spot for the missing curb cut is not the entrance into the park but the sidewalk before the actual park entrance.

The fact that the farmer needs a portable ramp demonstrates that there is no cut, as does the photo.
March 10, 2017, 3:25 pm
Catherine Paton from Clinton Hill says:
I was a contestant to celebrate the paved ramp and while not in the final photos, I got interested in the whole issue and discovered this forum.

I happen to have heard an important point made at a Salisbury (CT) Forum on May 12th by Doug Tallamy regarding the 'bigger issue we all have a stake in': re-greening the clear-cut areas and lawns of America (for starters) to have a fighting chance at preserving food for birds which are key to environmental equilibrium.

The kind of advocacy done to comply with ADA and promote reasonable solutions is what we need on a much larger scale. Our leaders cannot do all the work alone and maybe have to be educated about the need to make a serious plan.

With collaboration, Doug Tallamy says we have a fighting chance to save not only the birds but our own existence. Likely we need a new thread for this topic, but if we expect to live on our planet we need turn about half of the open space back into forests with the trees that provide a habitat for caterpillars (the main food source for birds.)

We can ramp up our efforts and buy time. Andrew Faust hosts permaculture sessions at the Brooklyn Commons on Atlantic Ave monthly. More info is online and as people work in small teams, the learning and implementation of ideas can happen more readily. Thanks for advocates along these lines and those joining such causes.
May 18, 2017, 8:14 pm

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