Everyone knows that getting up to the second floor courtroom of the Chatham Town Court is difficult even for able people. It is nearly impossible for persons with any form of disability. As a long-time defense lawyer in that court over nearly 20 years I have witnessed great efforts disabled people make to attend court. You have not seen anything until you see a disabled veteran going up those marble steps on his knees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II (1990) requires reasonable access be provided to all governmental activities. That requirement is nearly 30 years old. The Chatham Town Board clearly does not see this to be an important obligation for attention. Nothing has been done.
It is true that in 2015 the DeGroodt Board, with Maria Lull as a member, did have discussions with the Village, going to the point of getting construction estimates for various ways to provide an accessible courtroom. However, nothing has been done and the problem remains. Only recently a disabled woman who did get to the courtroom in the Tracy Hall could reportedly not get down to the first floor. She, it seems, had to be carried down by two court officers in a chair. Recently. The problem remains, having been overtaken by such important matters as decibel levels, trash cans, and numbers of accessory buildings on property. Do these facts show that these Board members running for election Tuesday have our community interests at heart?
The ADA is not local law. Chatham must comply with it. It will take new and sympathetic blood on the Board to do so. I know this subject is on the minds of the candidates Collins, Pitkin, and Mesick. I recommend voting for them to rid our town of this scandal.