FRAMINGHAM – The patio tables in front of the Memorial Building are still not compliant with federal law, two weeks after the Framingham Disability Commission voted to file a grievance against the City of Framingham.
Individuals in wheelchairs or scooters can not sit at the tables, that were installed by the City of Framingham in July, according to the Framingham Disability Commission.
On July 26, the Framingham Disability Commission voted to file a formal ADA grievance with the City’s ADA Coordinator, said Chair Karen Dempsey.
“It is frustrating that things can not be done right, so that every one can enjoy,” said Dempsey, who added she could not sit at the table with friends with her scooter.
The grievance was sent to Mayor Yvonne Spicer and Chief Operating Officer Thatcher Kezer III the day after the vote.
“First, we want chairs and tables installed that every one can use,” said Dempsey on July 31. “We like the idea of the patio. We don’t want the patio removed, we just want accessible tables and chairs at the patio.”
“The remedy is to purchase one or two more tables that have clearance for wheel chairs, which is already in the works,” Thatcher told City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti and Mayor Yvonne Spicer in an email. That August 5 email was forwarded to all 11-members of the City Council.
Dempsey said she met with Thatcher, who is the City’s ADA coordinator, on Thursday, August 9, two weeks after the vote by the Disability Commission.
“We discussed this issue and a resolution. I was told that 2 accessible tables will be ordered. I do not when they will be ordered or if they have have been and don’t know when they will arrive,” said Dempsey, who added she was hopeful City administration would provide a written response regarding the resolution of the grievance.
“I look forward to when people with disabilities will also be able to use the patio tables,” said Dempsey.
Thatcher told the City Council Chair that the July 28 email from the Disability Commission on the vote and grievance was not a formal complaint, in his opinion.
“We have not received a formal complaint as yet. I have responded to a press (blog) inquiry and will be in a more informed position if/when we receive a formal complaint or have the issued resolved,” Thatcher emailed Giombetti on August 5.
On Thursday morning, Downtown Framingham Inc, which purchased the patio furniture held a board meeting. The Executive Director said she was still waiting on the City to decide what steps to take.
Downtown Framingham received a $2,500 grant to establish the seating area from the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation, chaired by Mike Gatlin, who also serves as President of the Board of Downtown Framingham
The patio, which has six tables, and 30 chairs, also has banners with Downtown Framingham’s logo.
Thatcher said Downtown Framingham Inc. purchased the patio furniture at a cost of “$4,157.45.”
He said the “purpose of the grant is to provide amenities, even passive ones like sitting, in public spaces to create more activities in the downtown area. This is a pilot program to gage the response of creating more activities in the plaza in front of City Hall and to learn and adjust accordingly going forward.”