Addressing Bayonne’s lack of accessibility

Disability advocates assailed the city council over many issues

Non-able-bodied residents say they have a hard time getting around.
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Non-able-bodied residents say they have a hard time getting around.

Bayonne isn’t accessible enough to non-able-bodied people, members of the public argued at the Nov. 10 city council meeting.

The conversation was started by Edward “Lefty” Grimes, a Bayonne native and local activist who uses a wheelchair. He highlighted safety issues at one of the “most dangerous” intersections in the city: 49th Street and Avenue C.

With or without a wheelchair, the intersection has proven difficult to cross due to poor signage and faded crosswalk paint. While city officials seek to remedy the issue, Grimes outlined a larger acessibility issue.

At the August city council meeting, Grimes noted that the wheelchair elevator at the post office on Broadway was broken. It still hasn’t been fixed, Grimes noted at the Nov. 10 meeting.

Grimes said that many buildings in the Urban Enterprise Zone do not have wheelchair ramps, meaning those who use wheelchairs lack access to available tax breaks.

Resident Jeffrey King asked City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski to address the issue of accessibility.

Steps taken

Ashe-Nadrowski said that she had reached out to the local congressional office regarding the post office wheelchair elevator but said she would address the issue again.

Regarding the UEZ, Ashe-Nadrowski said that all public buildings are American with Disabilities Act compliant and that all new buildings must be handicap accessible.

According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the city installs or upgrades wheelchair ramps on street corners whenever roads are repaved. She noted that a number of new ramps have been added on Avenues A and F.

Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa said that there are two new ramps recently added at the corner of 36th Street and Avenue C. According to La Pelusa, the Department of Public Works has been maintaining the ramps and is committed to providing more access for non-able-bodied residents.

The city has also moved to make the Bayonne Free Public Library more accessible. A recent grant will partly fund renovations that will increase accessibility.

Ashe-Nadrowski said the city has spent more than $3 million on making the city more accessible over the past year.

“It’s an issue we are committed too,” she said.

King thanked the city council and said he looked forward to seeing changes implemented.

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