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Queens Chronicle

Ozone Park curbs a hindrance to disabled

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Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010 12:00 am

For people in wheelchairs or other motorized mobility machines, crossing some streets in Ozone Park can be a bumpy ride.

That’s because many curbs in and around the Centreville neighborhood lack cut-out ramps that enable the disabled to cross over them.

Ed Saparata, a longtime resident of 149th Avenue, said that road is among the worst for those in wheelchairs to have to traverse.

“Three-quarters of the curbs do not have any cutouts,” Saparata said. “I feel that the disabled community here is not being taken care of.”

Saparata said he has been trying to get this fixed for several years, first asking then-state Sen. Serphin Maltese’s office for help, and directly contacting the city Department of Transportation himself.

However, the Ozone Park resident said the DOT told him that ramps can’t be added until the long-planned HWQ411B sewer repair project is completed first.

But Saparata, like many other residents of the area, wonders when that project will be completed, as it was first proposed nearly 30 years ago.

The HWQ411B project calls for the replacement of several water mains and sanitary sewers in the area, along with the addition of new storm drains, which would help alleviate the community’s longtime flooding problem. The city Department of Design and Construction has said it could start as early as next year.

But until that happens, Saparata believes disabled residents of the area remain left out in the cold.

“I don’t think it’s a tremendous thing to ask the city to do,” he said. “They worry enough about bike lanes but can’t help out the disabled?”

The curb cut-outs are required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990.

According to a DOT spokeswoman, a capital reconstruction project for the area is scheduled that will include the installation of ADA-compliant ramps at all legal pedestrian crossings, including 94th to 96th streets at 149th Avenue and portions of Centerville Street.

However, an exact start date for when the work to install the ramps is scheduled to begin was not given.

Saparata, however, doesn’t think it should have taken this long for the city to even begin the work.

“This should have been done years ago,” he said.

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