In yet another 3-2 vote, the Ridgewood Village Council on Wednesday selected a design for a controversial ramp at Graydon Pool with hopes of completion before the summer season.
Having secured $55,000 in funds from a county grant, the council majority – Mayor Paul Aronsohn, Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli and Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck – said "Option 1" (see schematics on the right) was the way to go.
The design – shorter, with less concrete and a lighter cost than the alternative, "Option 3" – is expected to come at a cost less than $40,000 for the village.
The discussion on Wednesday was largely a rehashing of past council chats – and there have been many over the last several years. Preserve Graydon Coalition member Sally Brandes took aim squarely at Aronsohn, Pucciarelli and Hauck.
Brandes claimed the handicap ramp, 40 feet in length, might help those in wheelchairs but did little to nothing for those using canes, walkers and who might have other disabilities.
She lobbed a few ethics grenades as well, accusing Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli of purposely excluding other public officials from an informal meeting he set up.
Pucciarelli said three council members could not attend the informal pow-wow – which included experts and several residents – without requiring public notice, and refused to apologize for "educating" himself on the issues.
Option 1 was poorly received by Councilman Tom Riche and Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh.
The pair expressed concern for potential safety hazards associated with "Option 1." The ramp will clear into the spillway, where leaves and other debris are deposited. If constant maintenance is not performed, it could be a slip-and-fall hazard, the dissenting council members said.
Walsh favored Option 3, considered to be more aesthetically pleasing of the two designs, which would have avoided the spillway.
Either way, a plan by January was needed to fulfill ADA requirements, though construction wasn't.
Riche had other misgivings on the ramp question.
With Hurricane Sandy costs forthcoming – and in the shadow of larger budget woes – the councilman said he didn't feel it was a good financial investment.
Walsh, meanwhile, disagreed with Pucciarelli's claims that those in wheelchairs being deposited into 27 inches of water was not problematic. "They'll still need to pass the deep water test," Walsh said. Many will be able to pass, but many likely won't, she said.
The council majority stuck to their guns, voting lock-step.
The trio of Pucciarelli, Hauck and Aronsohn said the construction of the handicap ramp was a moral imperative. Although imperfect, it provides more access than is currently at Graydon and meets ADA requirements, they said. Down the line they'll explore handicap bathrooms and access into the facility.
"This is the start, not the end of our ADA activities at the pool and other facilities," Pucciarelli said. "This should not be construed as the last that we'll ever hear about accessibility at Graydon."
The hope, for some council members anyway, is the ramp will be unveiled in time for the June season at Graydon.