To the Editor:

A recent front page article in the local press described the nearly $1,000,000 renovation of a  building at Ft. Hancock, Sandy Hook. Much to my dismay, however, this building was renovated with no accessible entrance or pathway.

Rep. Frank  J. Pallone, Jr. said, "It's a perfect example of what we like to see." Pete McCarthy, Sandy Hook's National Park Service unit coordinator, noted, "We're very proud of the work the consortium did... It will give a guide to folks in terms of what we're looking for in the other buildings."

The developers all need to go back to the drawing board! Twenty years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),  one must climb nine steps from the sidewalk to the door. The only walkways are sandy, muddy, grass or uneven pavers with sand,  fully blocked by a picnic table.  My wheelchair became firmly stuck; I nearly fell out.

The ADA's first priorities for renovations, which are even included in the minimum for  historical preservation, are (ADAAG 4.1.7(3) ) at least: one accessible route, including parking, one accessible entrance that is used by the public, and  one accessible toilet facility.  This Ft. Hancock  project jumped instead to "phase two," internal features such as door handles and paint colors, with no building access for people with disabilities.

The media recently  reported a wonderful parade that honored a local disabled marine's  homecoming. The marine,  who actually grew up on Sandy Hook, would not be able to access this former military building.   It would be better if he and other wounded warriors were thanked and  honored by being included in society through buildings  that are accessible.

Even the historical Alamo, established in 1718, is now fully accessible. Access now is also required for Ft. Hancock  renovations!

Carolyn Schwebel
Equalizers, Advocates for People with Disabilities
Leonardo NJ