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The Facts About “ADA” Ramps

Dear Editor, 

Over the last several weeks, some statements regarding “ADA” beach access have become folklore – even though they are wrong.  Here are two important clarifications:  a) The law does not require ramps to get over a dune.  b) The required number of access points for the disabled in Belle Harbor/Neponsit is two, not four or eight. 

Ramps may or may not be the best way to help people with physical limitations access to the shoreline after the dune is built. However, they are not “required.”  There is nothing in the ADA or ABA that mandates ramps.  We know this to be true since the Army Corps has built dunes with Mobi-mat (and similar) crossovers up and down the coast.   

If ramps are the proper solution in Belle Harbor/Neponsit then Federal guidelines require no more than one-half mile of shoreline between access points.  Hence, we can meet that requirement with one ramp in the 140s and one ramp in the 130s.  The distance to the nearest bus stop (less than ¼ mile) and the distance to public parking (1/8 mile) are non-factors. The requirement is two access points, not four or eight as is commonly stated. 

Does that mean someone has been lying? No. This happens all the time in government. Someone misinterprets a rule.  After this “fact” is repeated and passed along several times, everyone assumes it is the law.   

Fair access to the beach is both a legal and moral obligation.  The Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, along with our sister civics, is working to enhance accessibility at all 24 beach entrances between B.126 and B.149.  As we collaborate with the powers that be, I think it important we be clear on the actual regulatory requirements…and then put more of our creative energy into devising the best possible solution for all. 

Paul King