[Editor's note: The following letter to the editor was submitted by the Preserve Graydon Coalition (PGC). At the right of this article contains several attachments –the full grant application; a schematic drawing of the ramp and sidewalk; and another document exploring alternatives to a concrete ramp at Graydon Pool. The following note is unedited.]
To the Editor:
Once again, paving threatens Graydon Pool–not the whole pool this time, but an important part of it.
The Village Council has applied to the County Freeholders for a $60,000 block grant for a concrete ramp leading into the 12-foot section of the swimming area. The ramp, including a $12,600 aluminum handrail drilled into the patio wall, would begin with a long concrete sidewalk at the corner of the bathroom building and cover the sand along the front of the Pavilion. It would circle the north spillway, then make two 90-degree turns before entering the water in a 34-foot stretch along the wall below the patio, ending with a landing platform of a few more feet.
In the grant application – posted at preservegraydon.org – the village cites as a basis for the design "our review and discussions with residents and those who use the facility." Sounds good, but no needs assessment was done. No general discussions with residents were held. And this ill-conceived plan would neither satisfy Graydon patrons nor remove barriers; in fact, it would add some.
The application states that Ridgewood would spend an additional $15,000 in municipal funds on the concrete project. Yet with modern materials and devices, the desired effect could be achieved non-invasively, less expensively and to serve a far broader population.
Allendale's Crestwood Lake, another municipal lake with a sandy beach, meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements with a beach wheelchair that goes over sand, a floating wheelchair that goes into water and folds flat for storage (mobi-chair.com), and removable water-permeable roll-out mats (which Graydon doesn't need).
At Graydon, a floating wheelchair could easily enter the water at the spot near the lap lanes in the 4-foot area where part of the low fieldstone wall has been removed. This shallower area, close to The Stable's about-to-be-upgraded parking lot, would accommodate all ages and abilities, whereas a ramp into the deep end would be harder to reach and suit few or none. In any case, a water-safe wheelchair would have to be bought for water entry; metal wheelchairs are not used on sand or in pools.
Among many other problems: A ramp in the northeast corner would catch detritus floating toward the spillway, creating an unsightly safety hazard. Seniors and others desiring a firm, quick foothold into the water would not choose to traverse a 40-foot ramp. They merely want existing ramps upgraded.
Of likely concern to countless residents, whether Graydon patrons or not, is the large amount of impervious material that would be added to the flood hazard area 12 months a year in a pool used three months a year. Our village engineer noted at a recent meeting that we would never reduce flooding until we stopped paving the floodway. What part of Hurricane Irene don't we understand?
If council members want Graydon kept natural, as four claim they do, and wish to make Graydon more barrier free without exacerbating flooding, they will seek better alternatives and withdraw the application, or if the grant money is offered, refuse it.
Co-Chair, The Preserve Graydon Coalition