YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A Yonkers-based non-profit organization is suing the town of Yorktown, claiming its town hall is difficult to access for people with disabilities.
The federal lawsuit was filed Dec. 1, 2016, in U.S. District Court by Westchester Disabled on the Move Inc. and its board president, Gail Cartenuto Cohn, a Yorktown resident. The organization claims that Yorktown Town Hall has insufficient handicapped parking spaces and a lack of elevator access to the top floor of the building, where two town offices are located.
According to the lawsuit, there are a combined 125 parking spaces in the loop in front of town hall and in the three connected parking lots. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the town is required to have at least five handicapped parking spaces, but town hall only has four. Of its four spaces, two are in front of town hall; the other two are behind the building near the rear entrance.
Westchester Disabled on the Move claims the current town hall layout is discriminatory toward people with disabilities, and restricts them from receiving the same government services as non-disabled people: paying fees or taxes, attending public meetings, obtaining licenses, voting, etc.
The town of Yorktown has until Feb. 28 to respond to the complaint. Yorktown Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott said he could not comment on the pending litigation.
“We’re taking a close look at it,” McDermott said.
Westchester Disabled on the Move claims it has raised these issues with the town on several occasions, first meeting with town officials in 2010. After another meeting in 2013, the town agreed to install two additional handicapped parking spaces in front of the building. The spaces were created in November 2013, but removed just four months later. The organization claims it wrote a letter to the town in August 2016, requesting the spaces be returned. A town employee responded, saying she would speak with the town attorney, but there has been no response since, according to the lawsuit.
The organization is seeking a permanent injunction ordering Yorktown to make modifications to its facilities. In addition to monetary damages for emotional distress, the organization is also asking the town of Yorktown to cover the lawsuit’s cost and its attorneys fees.