The wooden boardwalk near Jarvesville has a long history in Sandwich. It was built in 1875 and has become a popular landmark. It is not considered a replica of the original as it has been rebuilt with better materials over time, but the appearance has remained the same. The building was last rebuilt in 1992 after severe damage from Hurricane Bob, with name boards being sold in exchange for donations the city was happy to provide. At the time, there were no apparent efforts to bring the walkway into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which went into effect in July 1990 to improve accessibility, but Sandwich was hardly alone in doing so.
More:Sandwich Historic District Committee approves the demolition and replacement of the Sandwich Boardwalk
In 2009 the Obama administration financed infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy. The “Shovel Ready” task force chaired by the then Lt. However, Governor Tim Murray verified projects eligible for stimulus funds, but decided that the required ADA reviews could pose a “barrier” to the rapid issuance of federal funds as it could delay construction and even “prevent” such review Success of the federal legislative package. ”
Bridges and highways often require an ADA review due to sidewalks, ramps, and slope standards – of the 1,800 projects considered at the time, around 300 were identified as potentially in need of review. Murray, however, called for a “blanket deviation” to ignore accessibility for all stimulus projects, despite the fact that such projects have been built for decades. Imagine if such a waiver were required for public bidding laws, union requirements, and applicable wage laws, which could also slow construction.
While the ADA is as much the law of the country as these requirements, Cape Cod is the poster child for the consequences of not following the ADA review. The Hyannis Transportation Center was built with state and federal funds – with no ramps, accessible doors, or alternatives to stairs. These obvious errors would only be corrected after public street demonstrations. The necessary retrofitting cost the state hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money to make the building and site lawful
I remember the dispute over ADA and historic buildings and facilities in the 1990s. Reenactors and faculty protested that the appearance of a ramp would detract from the building’s historic profile and destroy its authenticity. It struck me at the time that the same historical purists had no problem introducing running water and modern sanitary facilities in the same buildings, inconspicuously of course. The chance to introduce schoolchildren to an authentic midden or outhouse they liked to skip.
The state even went so far as to publish a pamphlet explaining why entire floors of popular legislation were not being harmonized. The State House was too iconic, the cost was too great, the physical structure made it impossible. The state often exempts itself from the demands it places on the private sector, but these have been particularly inadequate.
Back in 2009, when the legal review requirements were abolished, I wrote, “The ADA is a real law. It’s not a feel-good proclamation like Employee of the Month or National Zither Day. It’s a binding federal law. ”
Decades after it was passed, the ADA is still treated as a frills that should only be enforced insofar as it is convenient or not too expensive. Imagine if discrimination and exclusion based on race, sex or religion were treated equally.
The blatant fact that disabled people were granted their civil rights of employment, dismissal, access to housing or legal status decades after the law came into force has faded as reasonable accommodation has been made and accepted. In fact, many of those who protested the added ramps or enlarged doors are now using them themselves.
The construction of a new, ADA-compliant sandwich boardwalk that is accessible to all is sensible and required by law. An opportunity to improve accessibility was missed in 2009. We don’t have to do it again.