The saga of a handicap ramp at Graydon could finally be coming to an end on Wednesday after nearly two years of argumenta on costs, aesthetics and the idea of inclusion.
The funding for the ramp, aided by a Community Development Block Grant – somewhat surprisingly came through in October in a 3-1 vote.
Two ramp options remain, dubbed "Option 3" and "Option 1," and it appears "Option 1" is the favorite of the council majrity.
It's been touted as blending into the Graydon surroundings better, using less concrete, and being significantly shorter than Option 3.
The council approved up to $95,000 in total toward the ramp in October, with $55,000 coming in the form of the county grant.
Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck dismissed comments made by Preserve Graydon Coalition (PGC) members that the ramp options would be of minimal help to the larger public. PGC members have said ramps would compromise the aesthetics of the pool and also do little to help those with disabilities that are not in wheelchairs.
“Our goal is to make access to Graydon Pool for everyone,” Hauck read in a statement last Wednesday. “Do we want to be known for inclusion or do we want to be known for exclusion?”
Councilman Tom Riche saw things differently. Riche, who voted against the funding in October, said with the costs incurred by Sandy, a ramp at Graydon simply isn't prudent spending. He continues to be troubled that Option 1 would lead to debris piling up in the spillway.
“I still strongly believe any ramp that goes anywhere near that spillway will become an algae-covered, slippery hazard,” Riche said. “Though there’s been much, much discussion I don’t think we’ve found an answer here. Right now, I'm not in favor of the ramp at all.”
His concerns were echoed by Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh last week.
“I don’t see that there is going to be a miraculous reason it’s going to be clean,” Walsh said, referring to the spillway. “It’s kind of like a slime…we would have to be vigilant in making sure it’s clean or it would be a slip-and-fall hazard.”
If there had to be an option selected, Walsh preferred Option 3, which she believed to be the better option in terms of aesthetics. The councilwoman also said bringing more people to Graydon – period – would help the accessibility cause.
“I think if we have more people going than we’re going to have inclusion just be virtue of residents coming there and using it.”
Option 1, Walsh claimed, would be troublesome. Anyone docking from the end of the ramp would need to pass the deep water test, she told colleagues.
Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli wasn't as sure as his council counterpart.
“It’s 27 inches deep and anybody who enters can continue walking along the patio wall and walk to the roped off area to the south,” he said, noting that people need "buoyancy" in the water. “I don’t think it’s an issue.”
Responding to statements that a handicap-accessible ramp will lead to a chain reaction of further costly ADA construction like at bathrooms and the parking lot's ramp, Pucciarelli said this is just the first step though an "imperfect" one. He expressed interest in down the line promoting greater overall accessibility.
Mayor Paul Aronsohn, who's been pushing for the work to be completed before Graydon opens in summer of 2013, said the notion that a choice between aesthetics and accessibility is incorrect.
“We have to make sure all people living in this town have access to all public facilities,” he said.
The council will be voting on Wednesday, Dec. 5 to approve a plan. Bids should be sent out shortly thereafter, with construction expected to be finalized for the start of the season.