LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Township of Little Falls is currently reviewing its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for several locations.
During the public comment portion of the July 10 Township Council workshop meeting, local resident Sara Goldstein, expressed some areas where she felt that accessibility was not sufficient. She cited issues at the annual July 4th street fair on Main Street, with the Alliance for a Better Community's (ABC) summer concerts in Memorial Park, and access to the second flood at the Little Falls' Public Library for the elderly and disabled.
Goldstein spoke about handicapped accommodations on behalf of those with physical limitations in the town, based on her own personal experiences recently.
"One of the things that the town does that I applaud is the Thursday night concert series and right now there is no handicapped parking set aside for those concerts," she told council members. "It means that I parked illegally in order to go by and check it out the other day. After about ten minutes I realized I better not stay parked where I was and there was no way I could walk blocks and blocks away in order to stay for the concert."
Goldstein also stated she volunteered at the recent July 4th fair on Main Street, where she felt there was no accommodation for those to access the fair in certain areas.
"There was no handicapped parking there either for that, which meant I had to walk quite a distance to get to the table and didn't get to the part of the fair that was up hill," Goldstein explained. "It's something for the town to think about because these are events that elderly people should be able to participate in."
Goldstein also mentioned the Little Falls Public Library, which is two levels, where many attendees with physical challenges cannot access the library's second level.
"Again, it's an expense for the library to put in an elevator and they have offered to make accommodations to bring books down, but it's not the same as browsing," she said, adding that individuals who are able to walk up a flight of steps can go to a particular section for book selection.
"I choose to use the library in Totowa," she added. "It's nice that I'm able to use a local town but I don't think it should take a two-year study of the town in order to get handicapped parking for the concerts on Thursday. I think this is something you should be able to take care of in a reasonable amount of time."
Mayor James Damiano replied to Goldstein that local police did close down a section of Wilmore Road, in order to allow handicapped individuals to park in the barricades that are put up.
"You are allowed to enter those barricades," he added. "The police will make sure you have a handicapped placard inside the cones so you only have to walk a couple of feet at the concert."
Goldstein pointed out that the police did not inform those seeking handicapped parking that it was available at the time.
"I think the local police should make people aware with some PR," she noted.
Renea Shapiro, ABC founder, also spoke during the public comment portion, stating that the alliance has assisted anyone in need of handicapped parking.
"Anyone who has come to us saying that they need handicapped parking, we direct them to an area where they can pull their car up and we've had several double park because the street is closed," she explained.
Shapiro added that those who wish to attend can have their cars parked close by as long as they come prior to 6:30 p.m., which is when the street gets blocked off. She also commented on changing shifts of officers at the event and were not made aware to inform those seeking handicapped parking.
Council President Anthony Sgobba thanked Goldstein for her comments and said the council would be looking into the concerns and would offer to reach out to her by phone if she could not make the next council meeting for what the progress is on her points.
The township is also in the process of adhering to ADA compliance for access to Inwood Park, including roadside curbs at the intersection of Wilmore Road and First Avenue.
The two concerns were brought up at at the Feb.13 Township Council meeting by Arnold Korotkin, local resident, during the open public comment. He said the the issue of having ramp accessibility for Inwood Park had been raised before to council members stemming back to when Joanne Bergin was the township's business administrator.