Disabilities Comm. Informed of Grant for Accessibility Assessment

The Revere Commission on Disabilities held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, December 12, via Zoom. Chair Ralph DeCicco, vice-chair Pauline Perno, and fellow members Jason Barone-Cichocki, Robert Brown, Ellie Pagan-Vargas, and Mario Grimanis were on hand for the session.

DeCicco presented a summary of the December Zoom meeting of the regional Commissions on Disabilities Alliance (CODA) which he attends on a regular basis. He said the group held a discussion about the procedures of the Mass. Architectural Access Board (MAAB). The commissioners voted to approve a motion put forward by DeCicco to place on the commission’s future agendas any issues pertaining to local variances that invoke the  jurisdiction of the MAAB. DeCicco also told the commissioners that he will be working with city officials on a plan to ensure that the city’s municipal buildings are fully-accessible.

Perno presented an update of winter programs offered for individuals with disabilities:

— The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) runs a Universal Access Program or https://www.mass.gov/topics/winter-recreation that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in adaptive winter sports and recreation. Events begin this week and all are invited at specific locations to take a spin at the indoor ice rink with your wheelchair or visit the East Boston Porrazzo Rink website directly https://www.mass.gov/locations/porrazzo-memorial-rink;

— Individuals can find more opportunities to participate in outdoor winter adaptive sports, as well as volunteer opportunities, with DCR’s Universal Access Program at https://www.mass.gov/topics/accessible-recreation;

— The Spaulding Rehab Hospital’s Adaptive Sports Centers (SASC) offers recreational opportunities that individuals may be interested in trying this winter as well. Activities include indoor sports such as pickleball or wheelchair basketball that can be played on an indoor court, as well as ice rink sports such as sled hockey. For more information, visit the SASC online calendar or https://sasc.spauldingrehab.org/default.aspx or call 877- 976-7272; and

— Perno noted that the Boston Seaport area has opened its Winter Wonderland program and that it has full accessibility.

DeCicco reported that he is trying to ensure that all local playgrounds be equipped with rubber mats, rather than with wood chips (as some are), which are not ADA-compliant.

DeCicco also informed his fellow commissioners of what he termed the “great news” that a grant, for which he had applied, has been approved in an amount of $18,000 from the Mass. Dept. of Public Health in order to provide funding for an assessment of the accessibility at some of the city’s recreational centers.

In the open discussion section of the meeting, Barone-Cichocki mentioned that the recently-passed state budget requires that cities and towns in the MBTA district must construct affordable housing in transit oriented districts (TOD), which he said could be of great benefit to individuals with disabilities.

However, as DeCicco noted, what constitutes “affordable,” which is based on either 60% of 80% of the average median income (AMI), is not really “affordable” for many people. He also said that accessible-housing units should be considered separately from the quota of affordable units in a housing development.

The meeting concluded with Perno reading the commission’s regular monthly announcement:

“The Commission on Disabilities office number is 781-286-8267. Residents can also call Revere 311 directly and speak to their staff Monday through Friday. They will be able to answer most questions, but if they are unable to, or if you would like to speak to our department directly, please ask to be transferred to the Disability office. If we are unavailable, please leave a detailed message 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 all the disabled residents and families of Revere.”

The commission then adjourned until its next meeting, which is scheduled (via Zoom) for Tuesday January 9, 2024, at 6:00.

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