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.