The Examiner

North Castle Mulls Accessibility Options for New Gazebo

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The old gazebo, which collapsed last June, will be replicated later this year but North Castle officials must first iron out issues regarding handicapped accessibility.
The old gazebo, above, which collapsed last June, will be replicated later this year but North Castle officials must first iron out issues regarding handicapped accessibility.

North Castle officials must soon decide which type of handicapped accessible option be installed for the town’s new gazebo at Wampus Brook Park if the structure is going to be built by summer.

Architect John Sullivan, who provided the town board last week with an update on the project, presented plans for either a ramp or a mechanical lift to be attached to the back of the gazebo.

However, Sullivan told the board that both options have a significant drawback for the town. Ramps are often used by skateboarders while a lift would require a key or password, effectively eliminating spontaneous access to the gazebo for someone with a disability.

“(A ramp) can be an attraction for skateboarding kids, and it’s kind of tough to keep (them) off even if you put gates or chains across them,” Sullivan said. “So I’d be a bit concerned, and I forewarn you about some level of liability on putting…either one of them, for that matter, on here.”

Both options would have similar costs of roughly $20,000, he said. Estimates released by the town for the entire project have been pegged at about $200,000.

Sullivan cautioned that in order for the gazebo to be finished by June, the town would have to make a decision on final design no later than mid-February. That would allow for a three-week bid process, another two to three weeks for contracts to be written and about 10 weeks of construction starting on or about Apr. 1, he said.

The original gazebo, which became structurally unsound, collapsed last June while crews were working to shore up the structure. Last summer,  the town rented a mobile stage from Greenburgh to hold the Small Town Theatre Company’s summer concert series and Frosty Day in the park.

Board members postponed making a decision at their Jan. 14 meeting, preferring to take time to consider their choices.

Councilman Stephen D’Angelo said the gazebo doesn’t have to be finished by June, but doesn’t want to see an active construction site in the park during the annual four-day Armonk Lions Fol de Rol in early June.

Sullivan responded that the contractor would be able to shut down the site to eliminate any type of hazard. Another suggestion would be to make sure the platform and overhead covering is in place and to complete the more intricate decorative work after the summer.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he wants all citizens to have the same ability to use the gazebo. If town employees or the police department have to be contacted to operate a lift or open the ramp, that doesn’t qualify as equal access, he said.

“The key to it, at least for me, the accessibility needs to be equal,” Schiliro said. “If somebody is there and it’s six o’clock in the morning and they want a cup of coffee and they want to sit up there, they should have access equal to everybody else.”

In good weather, Schiliro said he had often seen residents sitting in the original gazebo in the early morning and enjoying the outdoors.

One Armonk resident, Geri Mariano, said she hoped that the town could make the gazebo equally accessible for everyone. Mariano, who wrote a letter that was read at last week’s meeting, said a lift might comply with state and federal codes but they are prone to breakdowns and she questioned who would operate the device.

“I simply ask here tonight that more options are looked at and feedback from residents is welcome as there are numerous committees made up of town residents offering guideline policies on town matters,” Mariano said.

Another possibility, Sullivan said, would be to build a walking path made of a natural material or pavement that would gradually rise up to the structure. However, he cautioned officials the expense for that option would be greater than the ramp or lift. Sullivan was unable to provide an estimate for the path last week.

Officials could also choose to lower the height of the platform from four feet above the ground to two-and-half or three feet. Sullivan explained that since one linear foot of ramp is needed for every inch of elevation, a shorter ramp might be less attractive to skateboarders.

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