There are probably a number of good reasons why the Y can’t, and shouldn’t put up a temporary wheelchair ramp while it finishes construction. But why aren’t those reasons mentioned when the organization defends itself against charges that it’s indifferent to the plight of cripples? The latest brouhaha came before the Zoning Board when a wheelchair athlete complained that he can’t train for an upcoming triathlon because he can’t get his wheelchair to the Y’s pool. Leaving aside the issue of whether someone strong and fit enough to compete in a triathlon isn’t capable of getting to a pool, the Y could have, it seems to me, explained how much a temporary ramp would cost, its percentage of the total cost budget of making the new facility handicapped accessible, the interference with on-going construction,the availability of swimming pools in Stamford’s and Darien’s Ys, etc.
The Americans With Disabilities Act requires “reasonable ” efforts to accommodate the needs of disabled citizens. I think most able-bodied folks would be sympathetic to an argument why it is unreasonable to make a temporary accommodation now. But we don’t get that: instead, we hear legal arguments as to whether the P&Z has jurisdiction over the Building Department’s decision to issue a permit. It doesn’t, but for public relations purposes it would have been better to add to that tactical attack an appeal to common sense. People appreciate that.
Look: if there are no good reasons not to build a temporary ramp, then the Y should say so and go ahead and do the right thing. If there are, then the Y should point them out. It’s already angered half of its (now former) members and jeopardized its financial support in town by a series of blunders. Dealing with this latest situation forthrightly and openly can’t hurt.