We begin with an update on the controversy caused by the new Mayor of Boston in moving with unseemly dispatch to rip out brick ramps and replace them with concrete in the historic Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods over the vehement objections of the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA).
This is the exact issue we are dealing with in Cambridge with the City’s policy on brick sidewalks currently being implemented by Department of Public Works.
We continue to offer assistance to the BHCA by providing research on the use of bricks vs. concrete for ramps. The ADA does not specify materials to be used on ramps, only specifications for slope, and so forth. We shall see how their discussions and lawsuit go with the City of Boston. We will follow up on this issue. The fight to preserve brick sidewalk continuity is clearly related to changes we would like to see in Cambridge sidewalk policy.
Separately, as we wait for the IRS to determine tax exemption status, we have been busy laying the groundwork so we are ready to go when we get exemption. We now have a website, www.cbc-brick.org, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Much of this is with the assistance of one of our interns, Grace Li. Many thanks, Grace.
One of my priorities is to get feedback and input on brickwalks and brick ramps from the disabled. I admit that this has been challenging. I have reached out to the DAV. We have also asked for feedback on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. If any of you have more suggestions, I am open.
The point of this is to understand all sides of the brick ramp issue and to see if the way concrete is handled has helped. Certainly when you look at the photos of the concrete ramps with cracks and perhaps asphalt patches, you can tell it is not better than brick. All surfaces have to be maintained. The solution so far has been asphalt.
We are told by the Cambridge Committee for Disabled Persons that brick ramps are slippery and do not abut well to other materials. In my walks aroundCambridge and towns using brick, the abutment is not an issue. I have photos to prove it. I visited York, ME, this summer. York Beach has concrete sidewalks and roads. However, their ramps and crosswalks are in brick.
Slipperiness is handled by texture and so concrete has to be textured. Brick can also be textured. It depends on the design, installation and maintenance. And of course that is what CBC is all about. We want to assist Cambridge to design according the ADA rules, to install brick walks correctly, and to maintain the brick walks.
That’s all for now. More in the next blog post.
Diane Beck of the Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy