Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 2009 Salem Commission on Disabilities, Unofficial Minutes

Jaho Wharf St. resized The February meeting of the Salem Commission on Disabilities was held February 17th, 2008 at 4:05 PM.  Attending:  Jack Harris, chair, Charlie Reardon, co-chair, Debra Lobsitz, Jean Harris, David Martel, David Moisan, David Tracht, Andrew J. LaPointe, Michael Taylor, Jean Levesque, Assistant ADA Coordinator and Mike Sosnowski, City Council liasion.

Sidewalks:  Jack reports that Councilor Pelletier will propose an ordinance to  increase fines for those who don’t shovel sidewalks as required by law.

Mike S. was concerned about the elderly, disabled or others who are physically unable to shovel;  he cited one person that was cited by the city for not shoveling, when he had been recovering from open-heart surgery.  He concludes that we need to know our neighbors better to avoid these problem

Andy:  Andy worked with the Planning Board, Ellen Davinci and Joe O’Keefe on a main route that people would use, that would be maintained.  DPW was to get this route and maintain it with Bobcats but this never happened.  Andy believes many able-bodied can shovel but don’t bother. 

Jack:  Agrees with Mike, and our eminence Jean, that we have lost a sense of community and need to bring that back.  The equipment is there to clean sidewalks, but no one is there to run it.  It’s up to the city council.

Tom St. Pierre is the one to be contacted for sidewalk issues. 

Dave Martel:  Charter St.’s curb cuts are being plowed under inadvertently;  elderly must climb banks.  Jack:  Curb cut at Hawthorne Blvd. still covered.  Where is the civic pride (on the city workers)?

Andy:  Salem Council on Aging will connect elderly homeowners with shovelers.   Charlie and Andy both have great neighbors who help with shoveling.

Dave Moisan:  Almost witnessed a serious accident involving a guy in a wheelchair passing in the street near the one-hour lot at Museum Place (Federal @ St. Peter) and almost being hit by an SUV and tractor-trailer truck.  Emailed Jason Silva;  Jason says the city would prioritize this sidewalk.

Outdoor Seating:  Beth Rennard is drafting an ordinance regulating outdoor seating.  Jack suggests a joint meeting of the Licensing Board and the City Council to discuss outdoor seating.

Jaho Coffee (new store on Wharf St.:)  [photo above]  The new location of Jaho Coffee, at the old Russian Aid Society is not accessible to canes or wheelchairs.  Dave Martel reported the alleyway to the emergency exit was chained;  he reported on that and the chains were removed.

Andy asked why the store was allowed to open:  The law as it existed allowed him to do so.  He spent money for renovations under the ADA limit and so wasn’t required to make his store accessible.

The Commission was very disheartened and disappointed by this development.

Andy:  Andy’s son was a friend of the owner [of Jaho]and he thought the owner was aware of these issues. 

Community Sailing:  Community Sailing applied for a grant to get accessible boats;  they didn’t get the grant but are hoping to get it for next year.  We want to invite Paralympian sailor (and gold medalist!) Maureen McConnell, working with Community Sailing, to our March meeting to talk about the program.  The Commission is OK with that.

Old Business:  Office Space:   Jack:  The Commission currently has office space in the South Harbor Garage.  The Commission was promised the possibility of having space at 120 Washington St.

We’re not getting anywhere with that, so we are going to set up our office at the South Harbor Garage.  A list will be drawn up for material and necessities.  We’ll discuss staffing later on, but we should get it fitted out.  Dave Moisan:  Doesn’t look forward to office management—a big task—but may have access to donated items from SATV.  Dave M. assures the Commission that this “reappropriation” will be above board.

Permanent Secretary:  Jack has asked Ken Bonnachi to come back to be our secretary.  We are having a tough time doing our work without a secretary.  Ken will come back;  the decision on our office space is related to Ken’s reinvolvement.  Ken wrote excellent minutes [no doubt better than my own!—DCM]

MAAB Updates:  Bypass Road:   The MAAB granted an extension to February 1st for further information;  A fine hearing has been set up for April 27th;  if the situation on the bikepath hasn’t been resolved, MassHighway could be assessed $1,000 per day per violation.  Jack has updated Jason and Dave Knowlton, city engineer, and advised the city not to take ownership of the bikepath yet.

Salem Willows bathrooms:  They are completed!!  A grand opening (much eyerolling) is planned.  (The original facility dates to the 1940’s, so says Dave Martel.)

MBTA Bus stop on Highland Ave:  Dave Moisan was quoted in the Salem News recently about the T stop at Highland Ave.   Market Basket is trying to get the T to reroute the bus (450 and 456) through the parking lot to stop at the store.  They have talked with their contractor (they own the sidewalk outside the store on Highland Ave.) and this will be looked after in the future.  The Commission gives a hand to Dave M. for getting this issue attention.

Barcode Scanner:  Andy gave a demo of a barcode scanner by En-Vision America, the IDMate Omni.  This will scan and verbally announce products in its database, much like a grocery-store scanner.  It also lets you make audio notations for items not in the database.  The database is updated every few months and it goes onto an SD card that plugs into the device.

Andy also talked about his new GPS unit—it has changed his life!  He can get around much easier with this device.  He will demo it at a later meeting, outside when the weather’s warmer and brighter outside.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sweet Reading

A monkey (George?!) is wrapped up in his book outside Cornerstone Books, Salem.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Salem Depot Garage inches forward

The state has released money for design of a new Salem Depot.  New figure for the garage and depot is $46 million; one commenter on the Salem News wonders why it’s so high.  It is a lot of money that would have been better off spent sooner.  I suggest charging the amount to those people who held up this for years until more “studies” could be done.  If  a neighborhood association knew it could be liable for unwarranted delays, it might be more careful in judging just how its positions might affect other neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

No more studies.  Just build it.  Mayor Driscoll thinks the same.

Another commenter asks why we don’t have double-decker trains, which are desperately needed on the Rockport line (try finding a seat on the 7:25).   The MBTA has let out a contract to buy double-deckers from a Korean firm.    Here’s a image—presumably an artist’s conception—from eDaily, Korea:

There’s been a lot of concern about the build quality of these trains, but it’s a done deal.  I’ve heard, though, that these trains will have electronic signs and automatic stop announcements, like on the Blue Line.  At a station like Salem where any given train can go to one of three places on the same track, this will be helpful.

Now, if the T could just get some new locomotives…

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Confusing Apostrophes!

Via Beyond Red and Blue, the city of Birmingham England is removing the apostrophe from its place names.

I immediately thought of my own street.

I’ve noted this for some time when ordering online;  every time I’d enter “St Peter’s St.”, I would be told it was not an official address.  The closest address in the database was always “St. Peters St.”

Then new signs went up as part of the bypass road which read “St. Peters St.”

Quoting the article:

The US dropped such punctuation in 1890 when the US Board of Geographic Names removed the apostrophe from its database. Only five exceptions have ever been made, including Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in 1933.

I pulled up the 1897 atlas from and noted that my street was then called, in the map, “St Peter St.”.  Nearby, where the Parker Brothers complex would later be, there was an tidal pool, St. Peter’s Inlet. 

In the 1911 atlas, it’s still listed as “St Peter St.” and the inlet has been filled in.

Searching Live Maps today, my street is St. Peter St.

So, what’s my right street?  St. Peter or St. Peters?

Walking in Salem in the Winter

The Salem News followed up on my earlier blog post, The Most Dangerous Bus Stop in Salem;  Tom Dalton’s article, “Worst Bus Stop in Salem?” touched on most of the points I made.  The Mayor’s office is looking at a few things they can do;  one thing they can’t do, according to the MBTA, is put a bus shelter there.  As I’ve suspected, there is no room on that sidewalk.

The solutions available are to reroute the 450 and 456 buses to go through the parking lot to Market Basket, as Market Basket has asked for, or simply to plow the sidewalk. 

My colleagues and I in the Salem Commission on Disabilities all agree that we should not let this drop when the last snow melts this season.  There are numerous other places on Highland Ave. that are problems for pedestrians, such as at Wal-Mart ,and the inbound lane across from CVS on Essex St. and we need to look at them all.

I’m glad, of course, that Tom Dalton put a spotlight on this issue, and the Commission, but I must move on to other problems. 

One glaring problem all winter has been the sidewalk at the one-hour lot outside Museum Place, seen in the photo  above.  Except for a brief period in December when the snow melted, it has been impassable all winter.  St. John’s Church does not clear its sidewalk on the opposite side, and the street itself is very narrow.

It’s no less dangerous than Highland Ave. to a pedestrian in the winter.  And it is the route I take to SATV every day.

Lastly, here is a photo that illustrates what the Commission has to contend with in the winter:

This was taken on Sunday morning outside the Zisson elderly housing complex at the Salem YMCA [and the space belongs to the SHA, not the Y—correction.]  Note the high snowbanks, that would make it difficult for those in a chair van to navigate.

Also note the parked car (I’ve obscured the plate.)  Current HP placards are hung from the rear-view mirror;  I didn’t see one. 

My colleague Dave Martel has been after the Y to shovel its HP spaces;   he’s a reader of my blog, I wonder what he’ll find?

Update:  I’ve heard from Dave;  the city or its plowing contractor at the Y is doing a better job this year.  We may yet get through the rest of this winter without a serious problem.