The Revere Commission on Disabilities held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday evening (January 10) via Zoom. A new feature of the meeting was that it was closed-captioned.
Chairman Ralph DeCicco, vice-chair Pauline Perno, and fellow commissioners Mario Grimanis, Robert Brown, and new member Ellie Pagan-Vargas were on hand for the meeting, as well as Revere High student member Sophia Marmoucha.
Perno updated her fellow commissioners about her efforts to institute a monthly speaker series. She said that she has sent out notices to potential speakers and is awaiting responses.
Brown and Perno said they have been looking into obtaining information from Therapy Dog providers in order to establish a program in the Revere schools for children who would benefit from a therapy dog.
Brown, who is the president of the Revere Special Education Parents Advisory Council (SEPAC), updated his fellow commissioners regarding SEPAC’s upcoming events. He said the next SEPAC meeting is set for January 26 at the RHS Learning Commons and that the group is aiming to have a Valentine’s Party in February.
Perno opened up a discussion regarding crosswalks and pedestrian safety and expressed the hope that Paul Argenzio, the head of the DPW and chairman of the Traffic Commission, might be able to come to a meeting and discuss various matters of concern by the members.
She noted that there are a lot of issues with morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up at the high school, including double parking and general chaos during those hours.
“We need to have a conversation about the traffic pattern and the walking pattern,” Perno said. “A crossing guard or traffic signals might be appropriate there.”
She also noted that there is a problem with pedestrian safety along Revere Beach Blvd. because of a lack of illumination at night.
“I think the state can do a little better,” she said. “We’re adding to our population and we have more cars, but we have not been adding crosswalks.”
Grimanis pointed out however, that without a high rate of pedestrian accidents, the state will be unlikely to take any action to implement pedestrian safety measures.
DeCicco noted that another new hazard comes from those who operate their electric bicycles and scooters on sidewalks, which pose a danger for pedestrians, especially for senior citizens and those with disabilities.
DeCicco shared a letter he received from David Hoff, the chair of the Melrose Commission on Disabilities, regarding concerns and issues with the new Northeast Metro Tech School building that Hoff sent to the Mass. State Building Authority (MSBA).
The main issues raised in the letter are that apart from the controversy over the proposed site, there are major concerns with access from the lower parking lot, because it will require persons to traverse either 10 flights of stairs or an exceptionally-long boardwalk ramp, which is not ideal even for non-disabled students.
In addition, the letter, which is dated January 3, noted that 24 percent of the school’s children are on special education plans. The letter also suggested that the size of the building falls below the MSBA’s own guidelines for square footage relative to enrollment.
The so-called “hilltop” location for the new school also has drawn opposition from community groups in Wakefield and Melrose who have raised environmental concerns.
DeCicco, who also shared a recent article in the Boston Globe about the new building. said he will look into the various issues to determine what is factual and report back to his colleagues.
The meeting concluded with DeCicco reading the commission’s monthly announcement:
“The Commission on Disabilities Office works remotely. Residents can speak to staff from our 311 Constituent Service Center Monday through Friday when you call our office at 781-286- 8267. They will be able to answer most questions, but if they are unable to or if you would like a call back from our department, please ask to be transferred to the Disability Office’s voicemail and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
“As always please let us know if you would like something discussed or brought up and added to our monthly meeting agenda. You can let us know if you would like to speak on any issue or concern. The Commission is here to help and assist the disabled residents and families of Revere.”
The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 14.