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Manteca city staff, disabled working on concerns

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Manteca city staff, disabled working on concerns

Wheelchair bound advocate for better sidewalk accessibility in Manteca Brad Peters shows Manteca public works assistant director Jim Stone photographs of troubled locations.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED June 28, 2012 12:53 a.m.

An American Disabilities Act (ADA) advisory committee to Manteca city staffers is on the horizon as an outgrowth of a Tuesday morning session with members of the Manteca Happy Wheelers and other disabled citizens.


Following more than an hour of give and take discussion between some 16 Manteca residents, staffers and former building department director Dan Kaiser from Southern California who was hired as a consultant, one member of the audience spoke up from the back of the Senior Center auditorium.


Joni Bauer said it looked perfectly clear to her that an advisory board should be formed that could meet and present their collective challenges and possible solutions to the city in resolving what the group feels are major problems throughout the city facing those confined to wheelchairs.


Kaiser said he had been working with the handicapped since the mid-‘60s noting that it is his job to listen and to help people connect with the appropriate individuals who can help make a difference.


The consultant recommended directional signage in new developments where sidewalks are often a route to nowhere.  It would be a warning of a “dead end” ahead to those in wheelchairs, he said, letting them know it is not an established route.


Public works staffer Jim Stone said he is in a catch-22 situation where if he favored ramps at the end of sidewalks it would become a liability issue for the city.


“We have been told we should block sidewalks off (to wheelchairs) if they are a dead end,” Stone added. 


Wheelchair safety advocate Brad Peters pointed out the 100 yards of sidewalks in a new subdivision area in the northeast of town where he has to use the street to get to his destination.


Stone rebutted, saying, “I’m not required by law to provide (sidewalk) access to every home and every facility.”  He said he has been advocating for disability rights for years.


Stone said the city is aware there are overdue street repairs and sidewalks that are cracked or broken, along with raised sidewalk caused by tree roots and light poles in the middle of sidewalks.


He urged his audience to call in their observations and complaints so they could be put onto a priority list for repairs. 


“I can’t promise you immediate resolutions, but I will listen,” he said.


Kaiser agreed with the sidewalk challenges, saying there’s no “size fits all” solution, explaining that the city needs to look at the problems and address them on a case by case basis.


“We need your input.  We need your priority list so we can do something when the dollars become available,” he said.  Kaiser added that the blind wouldn’t be warned (about sidewalk dead ends) unless barriers were put in place.


“Be careful what you ask for,” he countered.


A federal highway administrator was sitting in the rear of the workshop adding that everybody knows there is a funding problem that also includes road and sidewalk construction.


“We’ve gotta focus on what we’ve got,” he said, adding that it is positive that the two side are sitting down together and talking.


It was also noted that a number of cities in the country don’t have sidewalks. He added those cities consequently have no liability to their citizens.


Wheelchair bound John Mack complained that there are at least 10 city bus stops where the disabled can’t get down the ramp.


“For two years of riding the bus, I’ve been to City Council meetings about the problems,” he said.  He pointed out that there is a bus stop by East Union High School “where you couldn’t get a chair on the bus if you tried.”


He told of another stop near the Costco warehouse where he said the driver comes around to assist the wheelchair people and has to walk through the rose bushes. Mack said he is looking forward to the construction of the transit center on Moffat Boulevard. 

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