The Associated Press

Boston’s Beacon Hill Balks At Ramps For Disabled

BOSTON — Boston Mayor Martin Walsh says he’s considering whether it’s possible to bypass the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission after it rejected pedestrian ramps with tactile warning strips for blind pedestrians.

The commission rejected the ramps with bumpy plastic strips because they would mar the neighborhood’s Colonial-era character.

Walsh told The Boston Globe he was outraged about the vote in December. He says it would not destroy brownstones or brick sidewalks.

Beacon Hill remains the only Boston neighborhood not complying with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Boston could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money if a plan is not approved in the next month.

Steve Young, chairman of the board of the Beacon Hill Civic Association, said the city’s initial proposal for yellow tactile strips do not meet historic requirements.

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  • Katie

    If the bumps truly are for blind folks, why not make them out of pavement instead of making them yellow? They’d blend Ina whole lot better and the intended audience would get the same benefit.

    • J__o__h__n

      Great point!

    • wolfndeer

      You realize there is a spectrum of blindness, right? Talk about ignorance here. There is a spectrum of blindness. Yellow markers are a tremendous help for people with seeing difficulties.

      • Katie

        Talk about snarkiness here. Jeez, dude, chill. It was just an idea. It still seems to me it would be better than nothing.

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  • J__o__h__n

    Historic preservation is at least equal to disability access.

    • dust truck

      I could sorta see that argument if we were talking about buildings, but the sidewalks are hardly historic.

  • John

    At the December hearing of the Architectural Commission, the Public Works Department reluctantly admitted that there would be substantial tree-cutting on Beacon Hill. This would be the ultimate crime which would dramatically diminish the historic and beautiful qualities of Beacon Hill, which attracts visitors from all over the world. When the Public Works plans to engage in major tree-removal came out at the hearing, there was a gasp of horror from most of the attendees. To those of us at the hearing, the Public Works Department plans emerged as a last-minute grasp for some recently available federal funds. A couple of days after the hearing, then elect-Mayor Marty Walsh told several Beacon Hill representatives that he did not favor the Public Works plans. How quickly his attitude apparently has changed! The reason we elected Tom Menino for 20 years was to keep the City out of the hands of James Michael Curly acolytes like Walsh.

  • wolfndeer

    Selfish entitlement. People already have theirs, so screw the rest, right?

  • Guest

    Catharine Reynolds

  • Catharine

    It’s distressing that WBUR would pick up the Globe’s article without confirming the facts.
    In December the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission rejected the plastic tactile panels proposed by the city of Boston, asking that the city use granite panels or other materials in keeping with the palate on Beacon Hill, granite panels that the city has used on both the Greenway and on the waterfront (not to mention at MGH). The city chose not to offer any alternatives or even to enter into a discussion with the Commission, withdrawing from the February agenda. (The city went through an iterative process with other Historic Districts in order to install ramps appropriate to other Historic Districts.)
    Then the city announces that there is $500,000 in Federal monies at stake and that this situation is URGENT. Why then didn’t the city come before the Commission at either the January or February meetings? Why then did the Planning Director of the Boston Transportation department say in an open meeting, “There will be a lot of time
    for discussion of tactile path materials.”
    Today I discover that the city is holding a public meeting to discuss this at 6:30 p.m. in Room 801 of City Hall on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, to discuss this. The thing is that “public” is relative, as the meeting has received no publicity. You can’t find it with Google and it doesn’t even win a spot on the City calendar (which includes events like the Knitting Group).
    I doubt that any of the Commissioners is opposed in any way to making the Hill as accessible as a brick-surfaced, steep area can be, that is THEY FAVOR THE RAMPS. The local residents are among the city’s older, and therefore most likely disabled, populations. The Commission just appears to care that the ramps be installed in keeping with the appearance of what is one of Boston’s leading tourist attractions (read economic engines).

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