by Joseph A. Luciano, Disability Rights Action Group of CT
Kimberly Dulka, owner of the All-American Valley General Store, has become principal advocate for the safety and rights of 12 handicapped seniors living in senior housing at 16 Bank Street (entrance on Columbus St.). Inaction of town officials has these seniors in harm’s way.
Architect/builder/developer Joe Migani has begun construction of more senior/handicapped housing on the very parking lot that was originally designated as parking not only for these resident seniors, but also for the proprietors of three established businesses: the General Store, an antique shop and a tea and pastry restaurant.
During construction, which is expected to last 18 months, these seniors have been advised by town safety officials to use municipal parking lots that officials deem “convenient.” However, access routes are in violation of ADA and state safety standards. Going to the nearest lot forces seniors to travel over earth and rubble and areas where sidewalks and curb cuts are absent. Then seniors have to pass over a state highway gutter between parked vehicles and fast-moving traffic. Routes to the distant (more than 1,000 feet) lots, besides being without crosswalks and curb cuts, are heaved like a roller coaster and are impassable to wheelchairs because of broken sidewalks. Also sidewalks that begin with a ramp do not have curb cuts at the other end. Town officials have sparked the ire of businesses by giving these seniors placards or stickers entitling them to park anywhere, thus using spaces needed for customers.
Questionable, if not illegal, decisions or approvals at planning and zoning meetings (some informal) have been dis-covered in Dulka’s review of minutes. State auditors have been asked to investigate whether terms of grants and loans are being followed. Many town citizens are backing Dulka’s petition to call for a special town meeting to stop construction as they believe this project is violating zoning laws and will cause inestimable damage to economic development, parking, businesses, as well as the health and well being of these senior/disabled residents. PAR readers and members: please consider signing and commenting on the petition at http://www.change.org/p/dannel-malloy-special-meeting-for-38-columbus-st-seymour-project-affecting-seniors-businesses-parking.
For updates and to get involved, contact Joseph A. Luciano, (203) 463-8323, DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com.