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January 2018

 

SETTLEMENT

Disabled President’s Park Now Accessible

Photo by Joe Rappaport

In resolution of a federal lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) last March, the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have agreed to the installation of a lift at the front steps of the monument built in 2012 to honor Franklin Roosevelt and includes other accessibility improvements to further full access for visitors with mobility disabilities.

The agreement settles a lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Plaintiffs the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID) and three New York City residents who use wheelchairs.

In addition to installing the lift, the Conservancy has also agreed to repair and regularly maintain the Park’s ground surfaces so that they remain smooth, and will undertake modifications to the bathrooms and eating areas in the park within the next year.

The Conservancy made the decision to structurally close off the section at the tip of the monument, known as the haha. (According to Wikipedia a ha-ha is an architectural term a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond.)

“The Memorial is a tribute to the only U.S. President to use a wheelchair for mobility while in office – we look forward to seeing these important accessibility improvements to the park,” said Edith Prentiss, then vice president of legislative affairs for Disabled In Action, a plaintiff in the case.

“Just as Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech still reverberates, we hope that this simple message reverberates as well – if you build it, you must make it accessible to all,” said Joseph Rappaport, executive director of BCID.

A copy of the Agreement is available at http://dralegal.org/ press/settlement-reached-provide- equal-access-fdr-memorial- roosevelt-island/.

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