Sunday, May 9, 2010

Salem Commission on Disabilities April 2010 Unofficial Minutes

[Sorry for the delay.  No pictures this post—DM]

The Salem Commission on Disabilities met on April 20th, 2010 at 4:00 PM.

Present: Jack Harris, Debra Lobsitz, Andy J. LaPointe, David Tracht, David Moisan, Charlie Reardon, David Martel and Jean Harrison.

Mike Taylor was unable to attend. Jean Levesque and Mike Sosnowski were not present.

Old Business--MBTA Bus stop, Market Basket

Jack: As most of you know, with the help of David Moisan, we’ve brought attention to the T bus stop at Market Basket. The city, with the help of Market Basket and the MBTA put a meeting together with suggestions. It has stalled. Not sure how, but in my discussions with Jason Silva, it ran into a roadblock. Market Basket and the T had a discussion, thought it was a good idea, MB offered to construct a shelter. But the T backed off, didn't like the location of the shelter.

I called Mr. Mathews to arrange a meeting with Jason in hopes of getting this done. It’s a safety issue.

Dave Moisan: I’d gotten a message from Richard Swinuch that he’d got from Keenan’s office; the abutter of MB (Shaw’s plaza next door) did not approve of the bus routing.

Jack: MB was going to pay for the bus shelter to be on their side of the mall.

Watch the Walmart/Lowes project--new stoplights and crosswalks are in now in the area but there could be reconfiguration. Several other stops on Highland Ave. present the same problems but the MB stop is the most notable.

MBTA New Garage at T lot

Jack: As some of you know, we won part of the fight: There will be a full-height platform--walk from the platform straight to the train (no steps). Now, we want a canopy over the whole platform. Previously, the T was citing money issues, plus the platform is on a curve and they didn't want to do it. From discussion with several people from the state, this is a win-win.

Charlie: There will be more wheelchair passengers, now that they can more easily board. Scott Maguire (friend of Charlie’s) once had to ride in the back of a baggage car.

Jack: This will help people on foot who won’t have to go up on steps.

David Martel: Will the boarding area be enclosed?

Jack: The T is still accepting comments.

Jean Harrison: They are more aware of the disabled.

Jack: A $300 million judgment (against the MBTA) will do that.

David Martel: Not to mention the curb cuts all over Salem. People take them for granted and if we took even half of them out, people would notice.

When we did the Access Monitor training, so many people from outside came to Salem and realized how good our access is compared to other places.

Charlie: The Witch Museum is accessible.

David Martel: Many of these people could grandfather out of the ADA requirements but they go ahead and make things accessible. Biff Michaud did that with the Witch Museum.

They put a lot of reenactments downstairs to make them accessible.

Andy: Another comment on the train platform; you may go on the train several times and not have any problems, but once you may have a problem. I had to call for my stop once and the train stopped halfway to Beverly. They had to back up to the station.

Jack: First rule: Disabled people need to let the conductor know where they will depart the train.

Andy: I did do that.

David Martel: Flight attendants do that too; I asked for assistance on a recent flight. You might hate doing that if you’re disabled—we’re all proud people—but we must do that.

Jack: Self-designation certainly helps. Safety, plus it helps them get to where they need to go.

David Tracht: The conductors must help too.

Andy: Blind people who get the ambition to travel, can get that ambition lost very quickly when they have a problem.

David Tracht: The train put me to sleep on the way home and I always woke up before my stop. I always wondered what if I didn’t? Partially-sighted people have particular problems in the fall and winter.

Jack: I ran into a new system today. They have automatic stop announcements that you may have heard in the subway (“Next stop...Government Center"). There is now a system on the commuter rail—but it has a female voice, which I don’t like.

Those who get a Blind Access Pass for the T: It's no longer good forever. It needs to be renewed every five years.

Renewal reminders aren't sent automatically.

Charlie: A blind person or a sight-impaired person can’t possibly read the fine print on the pass! What is he/she supposed to do?

Jack: I called the T to get a new one. They said they’re backed up. What do I do in the meantime? The phone rep told me something interesting: “Try the pass and maybe they’ll let you on!”

David Tracht: Won’t work on commuter rail.

David Moisan: I remind people that about five years ago, the T went to their Charlie Card system. They may be hoping people will fall off the rolls because they are deceased or they are no longer impaired.

David Martel: Where can you reload a Charlie Card in Salem?

David Moisan: Register the CharlieCard online. If you’re comfortable using debit online, this is best. All the buses have fare boxes that can be used to reload cards.

Most drivers are patient. Or you can go on the bus a few minutes before the trip. There are a few extra steps that involve tapping a button, tapping your card, inserting your money, tapping the card again and finally tapping the card one last time to pay the fare.

Jack: One of the drivers will help if you ask.

MAAB Update--4 First Street

4 First St. will get a site visit from the MAAB to review the parking lot access problem. We were hoping to do it this week but things came up. We’ll let everyone know when this is happening.

Variance at Morency Manor, Salem Housing Authority

Jack: The Salem Housing Authority asked for a variance. I handed this to David Martel and David Tracht since it would be a conflict of interest for me (and David Moisan) to handle it since I (and Dave M.) are SHA tenants.

David Martel: SHA wants a variance for Morency Manor. The control panel for the new elevator is in an alcove, but they want to put in a 2nd control panel. There should have been a variance in the first place from the contractor.

Variance at 76 Lafayette Street

Jack: Taco restaurant has been proposed for the unrented part of West Coast Video. The variance was requested before the building was even permitted, which we really appreciate. We will make a recommendation and send it along

Burba Dental (Highland Ave. @ Wilson Rd.) Variance

Jack: There are no HP parking spaces and ramp is not compliant. Tom St. Pierre will be back and we will discuss this. We want to know why the ramp is not compliant. I will let people know what’s going on.

Jack: The SRA had a meeting about outdoor seating. I talked about the direct path of travel. There was a problem involving the old Edgewater Café. They had seating that blocked off the sidewalk and got two complaints about it.

We will have to revisit this.

Dave Martel: Tavern in the Square: They flattened the traffic island and relocated the traffic controls. They did a very nice job and there are no access issues or trip hazards. They did listen.

Jack: We will have to watch this; summer will wind up quickly.

New Business

ADA Observance July 26, 2010

Jack: This year is the 20th anniversary of the ADA. I would like to put together some sort of good observance. The ILCNSCA is putting on an event. I'd like to have an event here, at Winter Island or Old Town Hall or the Ferry.

There are many accessible areas that are new in Salem that we should or want to highlight.

David Martel: Access training again?

Jack: Jeff Dugan is trying to visit every Commission on Disabilities in the state (200?). And is asking for an invitation (we will invite.) Regional meetings have happened, and the Disability Consortium Council has been doing some of these meetings.

Debra: Regional meeting in Salem?

David Martel: It’s possible. Visitor's Center is one possibility.

Dave Martel: For people starting up or reactivating their Commissions, Salem is an excellent model.

Incident on Bridge Street

Jack: There was a small article in the paper last weekend. A young lady in a chair was trying to get up Bridge St. near the motel with the MassHighway construction. A truck was parked on the sidewalk in the way, so she went around and the flagman on duty was very upset with her. Not that it’s necessarily the flagman’s fault, but the pedestrian should have gotten assistance. I brought it to the attention of John Jodoin about this.

Charlie Reardon: I talked about this with the construction crew on Bridge St. The flagmen don’t want to work on Bridge St. Officers will work Bridge St. while the [civilian] flagmen will do side streets.

Jack: My interest in this is that the flagman was obviously unhelpful. The truck should not have been parked there.

David Martel: It brings up a thought about school crossing guards. I wanted to cross the street at Boston & Essex Sts. and there was a crossing guard. I asked the guard for help crossing, and he told me I wasn’t a kid. Well, I’m not a senior citizen but still the traffic is horrendous.

Jack: Is the crossing guard solely for children? There needs to be clarification one way or the other.

David Moisan: I have had the opposite—crossing guards who insisted I cross the street with their assistance.

A Frame Signs, City Council Committee Meeting

Jack: Regulations for A-frame signs are being reconsidered. Joan Lovely is heading the committee to govern over these. We have asked for an invitation to a meeting. These signs directly impact the path of travel.

Andy: Nothing specific in the ordinances about disabled or blind, only the general 36 inch rule. If there needs to be consideration for the disabled with those signs, we need to speak out.

Charlie: I suggested to Rinus [Salem Chamber of Commerce] that the red line at Daniel Low's (now Rockefeller's) be cleared of any signs, seating and etc. and make a clear path of travel. This was done last year and all but 2 merchants complied. Signs should be near a tree, pole or other landmark when possible instead of standing on their own.

Andy & Dave Martel: Suggested a map similar to the official visitor's map, but instead of the usual red line, a blue line detailing path of travel and accessible pedestrian signals. A woman from Winthrop told me she has no idea how to safely get from one point of interest to another in her wheelchair.

Dave Martel has volunteered to do this.

Andy: Salem is a great place to visit for people with disabilities. Just go to any place where people from around the state meet, like the Carroll Center for the Blind. They all say Salem is great!

Jean Harrison: Put a sign outside designated restaurants?

Charlie Reardon: I’ll make the sign. It’ll have the HP logo and “courtesy of the Salem Commission on Disabilities” (blue and white).

Dave Martel: The information is sent also to Shaugnessy for use by the patients and families.

Other Business

Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann—911 Indicator Form

Andy: The ILCNSCA had no idea about the 911 indicator form; they are aware now, but for now we need to remind every disabled person in Salem to fill out the 911 indicator form in case of emergencies. All information is confidential.

Jack: 911 Indicator form has been on our website for some time. They just have to call us or attend our meetings. They have not. They've refused to work with us. They haven't even asked us to be part of variance requests. They know we're part of the process and they just don't want to do it.

Andy: If they don't know about it and I didn't know about the ILCNSCA, what's more important is that some disabled person needs to call 911 and it's a crisis--the person won't be thinking of that. Point is, when they fill out the form and something goes wrong, they will know the situation, you're in a wheelchair, you need rescue, etc. We need to bring it to everyone's attention. 25% of Salem's population has a disability. (!)

We need to get the point out.

David Martel: Can put out a flyer?

Andy: We need to work on this continually, and never stop.

Debra: Send the forms to the ILCNSCA?

Andy: I do my show for TIC and send the information everywhere.

Jack: The ILCNSCA gets this?

Andy: Not unless they listen. It's important enough that we need to make this a priority.

Audible Signal at Market Basket Southbound

David Moisan: The audible signal at the bus shelter outside Pep Boys (Market Basket southbound) broke several weeks ago. I notified Jason. The Polara signal was replaced two weeks later with a non-audible button. Need to check back with city engineer to see if audible signal will be replaced. The crosswalk needs audible signals at both sides for them to be effective.

David Martel: I’m surprised there are no audible signals at Salem Hospital. The sun obstructs view at sunrise and sunset.

David Moisan: There are no new signals north of Salem High--all signals between Essex St. and Wilson St. are the old non-audible signals.

Jack: Since you started this query, can you follow up with Jason?

David Moisan: Yes, I will check on that one. And I will ask about what will happen north of the high school. Boston St. is another issue entirely, but my immediate concern is the Market Basket signal.


Next Meeting is May 18, 2010,

Guest will be Verizon [Tom Boudreau]

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