Letter: Is our town meeting needs of the disabled?

To the Editor:

Ridgefield is renowned for the charm of its tree-lined village, but its real beauty lies in the town’s neighborly thoughtfulness.

That’s why we were stunned to hear that most of the 50 or so persons at a recent Town Hall meeting on the Americans with Disabilities Act felt Ridgefield is not meeting its obligations.

The belief gained strength after Betsy M. Allen of Somerville, Mass., regional ADA coordinator, outlined requirements of the law.

That was enough. Her list of ADA objectives was long and the current town budget lists $75,000 for ADA, more than in past years when there was none at all, and the gap is obvious.

If we can be frugal and still meet obligations, that’s commendable. But not so much if austerity is achieved through neglect.

The lack of accessible and affordable transportation, properly scheduled, is a shortcoming in local ADA services, according to speakers at the meeting.

A woman who has autism said she has to get a bus on Route 7 and then transfer to another to complete a rather complicated schedule to get to her classes in Norwalk and that she had understood that the ADA is supposed to assist people with physical and/or developmental disabilities.

A man confined to a wheelchair reported that he has to leave his home in Ridgefield at 7:30 two mornings a week to get life-saving medical infusions in Danbury. If he can’t get volunteer or ADA help, his cost is $150 for each round trip in a private wheelchair van.

Tony Phillips,  director of social services, suggested the man’s doctor could change his schedule or he could get a volunteer driver if he had his own wheelchair van.

That was a harsh reply, but maybe it will trigger a dialogue about Ridgefield’s ADA responsibilities.

Ed Chrostowski