Battle over handicap accessibility on Beacon Hill continues to ramp up

At the end of a contentious meeting over handicap ramps at intersections, Mayor Walsh and Beacon Hill residents may have come up with a compromise both sides can live with: "tables," or raised pavement that would satisfy Walsh's insistence neighborhood sidewalks be made more accessible to people with disabilities and residents' insistence that concrete the city would use in ramps be kept well the hell away from what they insisted was one of the most historic neighborhoods in the country.

Walsh told residents the city DPW will look at tables - there's already one on Temple Street right in front of the Suffolk basement where the meeting was held - before a planned repaving of Beacon Street and installation of 13 ramps along the road slated for mid-August. City officials say they have to give people in wheelchairs and people with visual issues a way to cross the street to comply with federal disability regulations - and get some federal reimbursement for the repaving on a road last resurfaced in 1999.

Walsh told a packed room of largely hostile Beacon Hill residents that while he recognizes resident deserve a say, the issue has been going on for 2 1/2 years and enough is enough - people with disabilities deserve the same right to enjoy Beacon Hill as the able bodied and fully sighted. "My administration is moving forward," he said.

He noted the city was able to come to agreement with residents in the city's other three historic districts - the Back Bay, the South End and Bay Village - on how to minimize the visual impact of the ramps.

"We're not the South End," one resident retorted.

After residents insisted Beacon Hill deserves better than the concrete framing that other neighborhoods get with their ramps, Walsh said, no, he's not going to approve fancy stuff for Beacon Hill when other neighborhoods get lesser stuff - it just wouldn't be fair to those other neighborhoods.

Residents basically retorted: So? "To say Beacon Hill is the same as any other neighborhood, it isn't," one resident said. "It's a gem for the nation and the city." And, he reminded the mayor, Beacon Hill makes a major contribution to the city tax base.

Residents, many of whom acknowledged taking a spill or two on the neighborhoods disjointed, if historic, brick sidewalks, said the concrete components of the planned ramps would be a blight that could lead to even worse things.

One warned it could lead tourists to stay away from one of the nation's premier attractions. "The terrible problem is, we are, if not the most important, certainly one of the most important tourist attractions in this country. and we have worked for the last 50 years to enhance that tourist attraction" and now the city wants to blow that all by installing ramps with concrete framing, she said. "I must say that the idea that we would care about a few federal dollars to fix our potholes and jeopardize this unique historic district in the United States of America, I don't think there's any comparison," she continued, adding a better solution for her husband - who is in a wheelchair - and others would be dedicated handicapped lanes, similar to the bike lanes that the city has striped on roads in other neighborhoods.

Another resident worried that the city wouldn't stop at concrete parts of ramps - it would come back and tear out the neighborhood's sidewalk trees in some mad dash to make narrow sidewalks fully ADA compliant.

One resident recalled how, in 1947, the ladies of Beacon Hill, in their hats and gloves, sat on Beacon Hill sidewalks to protest a city plan to replace bricks with cement.

Some residents said the city should just install all-brick ramps, but DPW Commissioner Michael Denhey said that would defeat part of the purpose of the ramps: Providing a contrasting color as a clue to the visually impaired the street is coming up.

Keeta Gilmore, chairwoman of the Beacon Hill Civic Association, said the group supports handicap ramps, just not the materials the city wants to use. There's nothing wrong with wire-cut bricks, she said.

But John Winske, in a wheelchair, said there is. "Wire-cut bricks, yes, they go in smooth, no, they don't stay that way." He challenged residents to try navigating some of the city's existing wire-cut brick sidewalks with a cup of coffee in their laps.

Winske said he and others are only looking for basic access and wondered just how far residents are willing to go to be "historic."

"Things change. We used to power our buildings with coal. We used to not have stop signs. We used to have cobblestone roads. Would you like them back? it would be historic. It would be hell on your cars."

"We're not tearing down your neighborhood," he said. "We are not going to rip the steps from your front door. We are simply asking to get around, without walking in the streets. we are simply asking to enjoy your neighborhood in our city. We are one city."

One resident who rose with his cane, said the ramps would make the neighborhood less safe for people like him. "You put your cane down on one of those dimples and you slip, you go down," he said.

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Comments

One thing I don't understand

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Spoke with someone who has been attending these meetings (not a resident or business owner).

Apparently Beacon Hill has come up with an ADA compliant solution. It's more expensive, but they (not sure who "they" is or what the solution is - perhaps the neighborhood or biz association), are willing to pay for it and save the city the cost.

The city says - no - you're not that special - we won't let you pay for your own solution.

Hard heads on both sides of the aisle?

There's more to this than is being reported on. I've seen this before - the public group - with all kinds of spokespeople - makes it look like the neighborhood hates people with disabilities - when in fact they are simply looking for better solutions than the ones proposed by the public agencies.

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If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

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"Residents of Beacon Hill have long resisted city proposals to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

In December, members of the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted down the city’s proposal to install pedestrian ramps and tactile warning strips in the neighborhood. They held that the ramps and yellow plastic strips would affect the Colonial character of the streets.

The Commission was established in 1955 by the Massachusetts State Legislature to help preserve the neighborhood’s 19th-century aesthetic.

However, after a team from the city’s Inspection Services Department concluded this week that the neighborhood is unsafe for people with disabilities, Mayor Walsh said he has the authority to overturn the Architectural Commission’s December decision.

In the last six months, city officials and residents have been unable to reach any compromises on the new infrastructure. Officials rejected a proposal to use gray warning strips instead of the typical yellow, due to visibility concerns.

They also turned down a proposal to construct granite ramps instead of concrete ones because of added costs, and because granite is more prone to cracking."

From article: "Beacon Hill to Get Handicapped Ramps, Despite Protest", via Boston.Com

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Maybe it's a parrot imitating a duck?

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They also turned down a proposal to construct granite ramps instead of concrete ones because of added costs, and because granite is more prone to cracking."

If they are willing to pay for it (and prompt repairs if it cracks), who cares?

And really - Beacon Hill pays a bloody fortune in taxes, none of the few kids that are there use the schools and it's not exactly overly taxing on the PD. Sometimes ya gotta throw the dog a bone to make it stop barking. Use some of that parking slush fund we were discussing the other day. Access is a big deal - paying to maintain some granite in the big picture is not. (and heard Beacon Hill is the only neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places - so you can hide behind that as justification).

Very bad optics on both sides.

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Hmmmm

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So do we need to replace all those century old granite headstones and statues? How about all the granite curbs located throughout the older sections of downtown?

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Nope

It's totally not the main curbstone material the length and breadth of Boston.
Nor is it used for porches and steps. It's just too cracky!

And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you (not made of granite either).

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So you think that the good denizens

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of the hill are going to and have the capacity to maintain granite ramps? Because of the silliness of the proposal, I can see why it was rejected by the city.

If I was in a wheelchair in a certain neighborhood, I would want to have an access ramp that is not prone to cracking for a variety of good and sensible reasons.

Let us revisit an earlier date and time:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/02/23/holding-out-beacon-hill/bFan...

“From a maintenance perspective, an installation perspective, and a cost perspective, granite is not a viable material,” said Katie Choe, chief engineer for the Department of Public Works."

Like she has any credibility

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As for granite ramps, city officials said they would be too expensive to use on such a broad scale, where concrete pedestrian ramps already cost the city on average about $6,000 apiece. The granite would cost more than four times as much, they said, and it is prone to cracking.

Yeah - right - $24k for granite instead of concrete.

Who they hiring for that job - Michelangelo?

Charge a special tax

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Charge a special tax assessment to Beacon Hill residents to pay for it. Including the crazy union labor markup.

I see why the city would turn

I see why the city would turn it down-- the upkeep would be very expensive, and there's no guarantee future Beacon Hill residents would want to pay for it. The city would soon have to pay for removal AND the replacement.

If BH residents are that hellbent to have granite ramps, they can also donate a trust fund for their upkeep.

But I'm with Mayor Marty here-- no matter how precious and gemlike the residents perceive their neighborhood to be, there should be some city-wide uniformity as well, a balance between the neighborhood character and the broader Boston aesthetic. Yes, I said "broader Boston aesthetic."

And I do want to know if the Disney Corp realizes that Beacon Hill is the premier tourist destination in the United States. I suspect they'd be surprised.

This sounds like one fun meeting to cover, Adam. Well done! I could almost hear the stiff upper lips quivering.

Citywide aesthetic

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Would that be the gray ramps yellow ramps,or the red ramps or the no ramps aesthetic? And then of the "bump" or " no bump variety". There are almost as many "aesthetics" as there are neighborhoods.

As for maintenance - granite doesn't typically crack if installed correctly and of proper thickness. That's one reason older foundations are made of granite. So are gravestones. So are many statues and their bases. So are most of the downtown curbstones. They are expensive to purchase and install. They don't crack. In fact there's a company in Mass that still manufactures and ships them around the country.

I think this is a stupid thing for the city to fight over. Give 'em their damned granite stones and keep the sleeping dog happy. You don't want that dog to wake up and start clamoring for something like a school. Then you'll realize how cheap granite ramps are.

correct

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You are correct. This story is not being reported accurately. One side is trying to frame the discussion as - People of Beacon Hill are jerks. They don't want anyone with disabilities coming here. The other side is saying, we care a lot about the hill, it has its problems, we want to find a solution that works for both. The mayor is not really that interested in the latter. He's in let's get this done, mode.

And by the way, I don't own a home but I do live on the hill and I am not rich. But these folks pay a crap load of taxes. If they removed these homes and put them anywhere else they would not be worth all that. And some of those older people at the meeting have been living there for years and taking their stewardship very seriously.

The hill people are not all rich snobs. It's hardly the number 1 historic site in Boston as ONE little old lady claimed. We all know that. But it's good when people care about a place. Oh, and these are not likely the same people who throw trash out into the streets for the rats.

Again, I fail to see the accuracy issue

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The real issue is that folks with pull kept any resolution at bay for 2 1/2 years. That appears to be the fact.

Yes, of course, not all Beacon Hill residents are "jerks" and/or "rich snobs" but it appears that many with pull and power seem to have a sense of entitlement and/or delicate sensibilities.

And It has nothing to do with how much taxes a person pays or how long they have lived in a place but adhering to the law the guarantees rights to those with disabilities.

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Did you read their proposal

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They came up with a solution that adheres to the law. They said they'd pay for it themselves. Why is this even a further issue - put in the granite and be done with it.

Why does the city care what material the strips are made out of if somebody else is paying for the more expensive version?

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Stevil -

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Yes, I understand what was proposed as to the so called solutions.

The answer to your question is that the solutions proposed were not either compliant to the law and/or realistic solutions (please refer to the Boston.com portion of the article I posted) which I now repost in part. Please see last sentence.

"In the last six months, city officials and residents have been unable to reach any compromises on the new infrastructure. Officials rejected a proposal to use gray warning strips instead of the typical yellow, due to visibility concerns.

They also turned down a proposal to construct granite ramps instead of concrete ones because of added costs, and because granite is more prone to cracking."

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I second whyaduck and would

I second whyaduck and would add to that the sidewalk is still public property, not the personal property of Beacon Hill residents. While they should be heard, and as abutters be accommodated within the budget and the law, that they are willing to foot the bill STILL doesn't mean that they get to change the function of public property. And the function of a sidewalk is to allow people access to buildings on said block, and to provide a safe pathway outside of car traffic for people to travel.

Secondly, the ramps are useful for many people besides those in wheelchairs. They help landscapers, DPW workers, and construction workers move heavy rolling equipment or containers to work sites. They are easier than curbs for people with walkers or on crutches to negotiate. They make having a stroller or a granny cart more feasible-- which also reduces the need for a car, which means fewer anachronistic cars rolling through the 'hood.

I don't begrudge that BH residents wanted a say in how this looks-- I do begrudge that they have tied up city time, the Mayor's time, and delayed the receipt of federal money for infrastructure repair for over two years.

I also don't think that ANY neighborhood should get special treatment for having high property values. The property owners benefit from the high property values already. Historical importance should be considered, sure. But Beacon Hill should not be handed special consideration & permissions simply because the property resale value is high.

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Probably some precedent thing

.based on practical stuff like '"we can't just let any rich assholes decide our standards for us".

A sovereignty thing. Legal jurisdictions have been known to get prickly about these encroachments.

I often wonder how much of the market value of these dumps and the 3.5 million dollar jobs over in the Back Bay zip code is just inflated and flimsy, status stuff and so on... intangible and the first value element to take a hit when people get over the current trance.

There's some cool wizardry going on around here. I'm still chuckling about the Yuengling chump caper. What next? will Slim Jims become the new Pate?

What if agreeing to negotiate these micromanagements is in itself fairly exceptional deference on the part of the city?

And where does it end?

wow

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I get the feeling that when the feds transfer thousands of illegal kids to Massachusetts the residents of Beacon Hill will chant 'We are not Dorchester'

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This is getting ridiculous.

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This is getting ridiculous. ADA compliance is mandatory, and there are standards that must be followed. Beacon Hill is not exempt from them.

And most of these arguments are ridiculous. I mean wheelchair lanes!?

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And...

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I think we should reinstall "Mount Whoredom" along on side of Charles Street to make it really historic.

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And...

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throw in a few ye olde boarding houses (with or without rowdy sailor types) for good historic measure.

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An Exceptionalist Feast

..in Pretentious Pukeville.

"The terrible problem is, we are, if not the most important, certainly one of the most important tourist attractions in this country. and we have worked for the last 50 years to enhance that tourist attraction"

Nothing like the importance of being important.

And you know these ridiculous assholes don't care one bit about being a 'tourist attraction'.

It is wonderful spectacle of hand wringing and abject bullshit slung by fairly inexperienced dissemblers.

And yet I still recall a childhood time when my great grandmother and I would walk to Temple Street from North Station to visit her friend Mary Curtis.

She was an ancient Irish lady with a brogue you could cut with a knife and she weighed 300 pounds or so.

She had a strange basement apartment that was dirt cheap for an old person on an early 1960s fixed income.

She had a heavy pheromone load of Ben Gay wafting from her due to arthritis and an adjoining tenant neighbor with a dachshund named Sam who liked to sip beer from an old soup bowl and pass out plastered in a corner.

And now we have this shit.

Oh yes they want tourists... suuuure...http://youtu.be/ke-0R1dREdk

They want tourists so much they are willing to gum up a meeting with the most ridiculous posturing this side of Monty Pythons Cheese Shop in order make it a handful for tourists.

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And shame on the City for

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even meeting with these idiots to propose a "compromise." Here's a suggestion to Mayor Walsh. Tell these self imporatnt NIMBYs to STFU, then have the City put the GD ramps in as proposed, and guess what - in three months time, people won't even notice them.

And, unless I'm mistaken, ADA compliance trumps aesthetic whining, even in a "historic" district.

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Tourists?

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Of course having handicap-accessible ramps will drive away tourists. How can they bear seeing that unsightly concrete? That's obviously the most important thing about visiting Beacon Hill to visitors from Idaho and Florida.

What selfish, self-important toads!
(No offense meant to amphibians.)

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I work on Beacon Hill. It's

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I work on Beacon Hill. It's hard to enjoy what a lovely, historic area it is, because I have to look at the ground as I carefully try to navigate the broken bricks. When it rains and the bricks are slick, forget it. There's also a flowering tree that overhands the sidewalk near my office, and every spring when the petals fall on to those bricks, I take a tumble.

It hadn't occurred to me that residents actually enjoy how unsafe and uncomfortable the bricks are to walk on. And rest assured, people from other parts of the country think it's ridiculous to intentionally keep sidewalks in that condition, for historic purposes, especially in a tourist area with so much foot traffic. The bricks seem to say "stay away, we don't want you walking here." Never mind the fact that they don't want wheelchairs on their sidewalks. It doesn't sound like they want anyone there.

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Exactly

The bricks seem to say "stay away, we don't want you walking here.

If the residents of Beacon Hill could they'd turn the place into a gated community where only residents and their guests could enter. They have absolutely no desire to encourage tourists. Their fear is that if the sidewalks improve perhaps more people will be encouraged to walk around.

I'm with some of the other commenters -- if they demand something "historic" lets give them what they want. Turn it into inner-city Plymouth plantation and remove everything which is indicative of life after 1800s. No cars, no electricity, no AC, and lots of communicable diseases.

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Important Tourist Attraction

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Is she really so stupid to not consider that PWDs like to participate in travel and tourism?

The ignorance (feigned stupidity?) really boggles the mind!

I'm curious about Mayor Walsh's contention that "this has been going in for 2 1/2 years." Isn't it more like 24 years? How is it that they've been able to evade the ADA for so long?

Thank you Mayor Walsh for doing the right thing!
These people have no class.

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Dedicated handicapped lanes

I find that thoroughly amusing. All you need to do is take out all the parking on the street, and they'd work fine... until somebody parks in one with his blinkers on, or the plows fill it with snow, or people start using it for recycling bins. Oh, wait, you wanted parking?

If the nobs up on Beacon Hill want special materials (say, contrasting color wire-cut bricks) for the required handicapped ramps, they should pony up. Why they think the rest of the city should pay extra so they can be special is beyond me (and, apparently, beyond Walsh too).

It seems like a whole bunch of folks were very surprised to find that their shit _does_ stink.

Maybe if we turned the entirety of Beacon Hill into a pedestrian mall it would fix the problem. Then the millions of tourists who come to see the Most Important Tourist Site In The World would be even happier!

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I would love to see

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a breakdown of how many tourist dollars are actually generated by Beacon Hill. Not just how many tourists might walk through, but how much money they actually spend there.

I would be willing to bet a duckboatload that the North End, Waterfront, Faneuil, Back Bay or even Fenway generate more income for the city.

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Beacon Hill

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Wow! You've got to be kidding me! I'm not sure where to start. People won't visit the area because of the wrong color of ramps? Nice.

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I suggest

the City put in bike lanes and move the Caribbean Festival to Beacon Hill.

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I support whatever measure

Non-intrusive accessibility should be a requirement and I support whatever measure makes less tourists come to Beacon Hill. Keep the schlubbs and sidewalk wall stop-and-starers to the Common, downtown and Faneuil Hall where they can carelessly leave their rotting frozen yogurt cups on the ground somewhere where they will be cleaned up by the city and not become the responsibility of residents because tourists are too stupid to know littering in someone else's neighbourhood is a bad thing.

Thank goodness Beacon Hill is actually mostly on a hill that automatically dissuades most of the "my only exercise is a walk to the McDonalds entrence when the drivethrough is too long" crew.

All that's left is for Suffolk University to hurry up and finish their DTX dorms to get rid of the "mommy and daddy can't tell me what to do anymore so I'll party till 3am" kids that want to Alstonify BH and the North End.

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Oof

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You sound like a happy person.

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I spent every summer cleaning

I spent every summer cleaning up Frozen Yogurt cups off my steps on Newbury St ever since those damned shops opened and can't stand tourists that take up an entire sidewalk or just stop walking when someone is behind them. I can respect someone's neighbourhood when I'm traveling but why can't most of these schlubs?

Thing is you can't just have people attend a "how to be a respectful traveler" class. Quite sad.

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The yogurt cup thing I understand

But this:

..

. can't stand tourists that take up an entire sidewalk or just stop walking when someone is behind them.

That's what tourists do. They wander.. They stop and look at stuff. They're not on a mission to get from point A to point B. Are you telling me that when you visit Paris/Rome/Chamonix/Zurich/NYC/Sydney/etc. that you never stop and look?

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You move out of the way of

You move out of the way of pedestrian traffic. You don't just stop and let people behind you walk into you. You also don't walk into bike lanes or straddle the length of the sidewalk preventing people behind you moving at a quicker pace from passing.

If you're wearing a massive backpack you also should be aware of it and now swing it into someone's Goddamn face.

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Things you are against

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From your replies so far:

1. Tourists
2. Frozen Yogurt
3. Bars that are open past midnight
4. Strip clubs
5. Those darn kids

Anything else you want to shake your cane at?

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1. Correct

1. Correct
2. Correct
3. The current time is fine
4. Not itself but the discontinuing enforcement of the laws and regulations that prevent exploitation or inhibit prostitution.
5. If you aren't pissed off by annoying college kids you either must be in college or have no adult responsibilities.

I'm also pissed at the state of disrepair of MBTA bus bike racks if that helps.

Mostly I dislike people who don't respect their neighbours or fellow citizens. More people need to be aware of their actions and understand how to act when you're a guest of a community. We live in a great tourist city but unlike a lot of other touristy cities, more people here live and work in the high tourist traffic areas, which are significantly smaller than say, Midtown Manhattan. Students for the most part are tourists as well.

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Oh, enough with the Beacon

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Oh, enough with the Beacon Hill crowd hating on Suffolk. I lived on the Hill when I was an undergrad, and this has been going on for at least 10 years. But you know what? It's as much the young professionals living in the neighborhood who are throwing the raucous parties as the students. And who else do you think is going to pay the absurd BH rents for living in an shoebox of an apartment? Not the Ladies Who Lunch, that's for sure.

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Funny you should mention those

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Once city councilor, Matt O'Malley, I think, has been pushing the city to buy what are basically timers to turn the gas lamps off during the day (I think his district has three or four gas lamps).

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Well, my work here is done

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How you gonna keep me down on the farm now that I've been declared an idiot? Makes me want to get on a pair of my paint-stained pants and one of my T-shirts with the holes in them (hmm, maybe the one advertising Brigham's) and just stand on Charles Street, drooling.

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Run with it

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Take it as your new full formal title.

As in: "Good evening, I have the pleasure of introducing The Idiot Adam Gaffin."
Or "This french toast kit officially endorsed by The Idiot Adam Gaffin."

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Tabled intersections / shared space

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Those are some pretty laughable excuses from some residents, but if the end result is tabled intersections, that's a pretty good outcome.

Actually, they should go further and just get rid of the raised curbs entirely. Make the entire hill a pedestrian/shared-space zone (it already is, in practice) and use bollards to keep cars in check (those oh-so historic cars). That's the typical practice in many other historic areas, e.g., a quick Google search comes up with:

IMAGE(https://urbangrit.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/upton-shared-street-1.jpg)

Solves all the problems with ramps and narrow sidewalks.

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Are you trolling?

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Shared space is used all over the world. I just picked a picture from the UK. So what? What's the "uniqueness" of having raised curbs like almost every other street in the United States?

Boston already has some shared space streets itself (e.g. Babbitt Street), as does Cambridge (e.g. Palmer Street), so it's quite clearly possible to do.

Adam might be right about DPW, though. They really hate doing anything to help pedestrians.

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Not trolling. I'm trying to

Not trolling. I'm trying to imagine what Charles Street would look like without the brick or the curbs like in the image and it doesn't look like the current at all. I can't imagine them ever getting away with Winter Streeting BH up.

Not Charles Street

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Charles Street probably stays with curbs. Widen the sidewalks and make traffic flow two ways.

Most of the rest of the hill doesn't need curbs, especially the nice small streets.

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One resident did bring that up

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The whole idea of "shared streets." Might actually work in a neighborhood with small, narrow streets such as Beacon Hill. But can you imagine the DPW agreeing to that?

Also, Walsh made a point of saying the current ramp imbroglio is really a short term thing. Long term, the city and residents need to figure out what to do about not just access but the fact that the sidewalks are basically death traps because of how uneven the bricks are (was amazing how many people in that room raised their hands when somebody asked if they'd ever tripped on the sidewalks). So who knows?

And who knows if the ramps themselves won't become a long term thing? People with lots of disposable income who don't get their way tend to hire expensive lawyers and go to court. Given that the Beacon Street repaving is scheduled to start in about a month, should be interesting to see what happens in Suffolk Superior Court over the next few weeks.

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There's a name for that!

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In traffic engineering parlance it's called a woonerf!

The weird name is because the first ones were created in the Netherlands!

The problem is that shared

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The problem is that shared space is *really* bad for a lot of handicapped persons. Visually impared persons have a more than tough time navigating it, and it's not much better for wheelchair users and others who are mobility-impaired. Most support and pressure groups representing such persons come out pretty uniformly against setups like this for good reason.

News to me

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Considering that the city of Boston has official guidelines for shared space, and I don't think they'd do that if it wasn't compliant with the ADA and Mass AAB.

BTW, I'm not ruling out pedestrian-only zones on the shared street. Those would have all the tactile support and contrast indications necessary to help guide a visually impaired person. There just wouldn't be curbs to trip and fall over.

But I will look into it some more and check back. Thanks for the heads up.

I was ready to defend them

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I really was.

The city has a hang-up on contrasts in the tactile strips by the ramps, but go to other, non-historic parts of the city, and you will find that the yellow paint has faded, but no one seems to care- I don't. That's right, I am doubting the City's concerns about the contrasts.

However, then I read:

"The terrible problem is, we are, if not the most important, certainly one of the most important tourist attractions in this country

Someone has an inflated sense of self. I love Beacon Hill. It's really neat and an asset to the city, but I don't know if I'd even put it on the top 3 important tourist attractions of the city, which then discounts every other city in the United States. Independence Hall? The Mall in Washington DC? Ellis Island? Fort Sumter? Heck, if I discount historical significance, the Magic Kingdom dwarfs a residential district in a corner of the country in a blink.

Sorry folk, get some perspective.

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The city doesnt love contrast

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The city doesnt love contrast, the city loves to follow federal law that was passed in 1990.

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but, but, but

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The ADA compliant strips installed either by my place of work or in Roslindale Square don't have contrast. They might have when installed, but it different shades of grey now. However, I am not seeing people up in arms about the lack of yellow there.

Honestly, I couldn't care less about this whole thing, except the thing I've observed about the other strips and the whole "most important tourist area in America" thing. I would have noted Plymouth, but Plymouth Rock is a rip. No one should go out of their way to visit that. Now St. Augustine, FL, would seem to be a more historic place to visit, being the oldest European settlement in the United States and all.

They have put new sidewalks

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They have put new sidewalks in down there at Plymouth , and installed a granite compass on the sidewalk, it's sweet !

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So you're claiming that

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So you're claiming that Federal law says the tactile strips at crosswalk ramps have to be yellow.

I guess that means Federal law doesn't apply at the corner of Congress and State? http://goo.gl/maps/F8RZA

How about at the corner of Milk and Atlantic? http://goo.gl/maps/bZR4x

Federal law obviously doesn't apply in Cambridge. http://goo.gl/maps/bZR4x

And who could expect anything better from Brookline? http://goo.gl/maps/NCdTM

Why do all these manufacturers even make red and grey tactile strips if only yellow ones are allowed?

In fact, I'm having a hard time finding *any* crosswalk ramp tactile strips that are yellow. So do you think maybe you're mistaken, and colors besides yellow are allowed?

Oh, they're out there

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The ones across the street from my house are still yellow, and little Waquiot Jr. loves the yellow one at the end of the block. Doesn't care for the one across the street, but hey, us Waquiots are an odd breed.

ADA = "Reasonable accomodation" I believe

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My understanding is that the ADA doesn't specify any particular accessibility means, just that buildings, cities, etc, provide "reasonable accomodation" for the handicapped.

The specifics of the implementation are generally set up by local codes, ordiances, etc. There are standards out there that are used (so that each municipality doesn't have to reinvent the wheel).

So I'm quite sure that something at that level is not specified by Federal law.

It's an awesome place

..to discover that people seemed to be shorter in the late 18th/early 19th century.

And a likely spot for that doctoral thesis on period boot scraper design.

(But was there more horse shit then or now?)

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Don't go by this nutty

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Don't go by this nutty comment. That was one person and that one person doesn't represent everyone in the room. Definitely does not represent many of us.

Point taken

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However, that person is delusional.

I was at a neighborhood meeting in Roslindale once where one person said that in the 3 years they lived there, the quality of life decreased. The meeting was about building new housing to handle the growing demand. Because the place was going to hell in a hand basket, apparently.

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Why is the self importance of

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Why is the self importance of the morons on Bacon Hill news? They've always been like this, and you morons keep voting these idiots in.

Yes I'm generalizing, painting you all with one brush, blah blah blah.

Do tell

I had no idea that being a Beacon Hill resident was an elective office. I will definitely stop moronically voting those idiots in, as soon as I determine what misleading title they're using for those offices!

I walk down Charles Street

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on a fairly regular basis. I have yet to see hordes of tourists.

I am sure a few wander up and down the hill but to say that the hill is one of the most important tourist attractions in the country, well, that is just plain silly. Heck, the hill is not even one of the most important tourist attractions in Boston.

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Well, they're on ranked #15

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Well, they're on ranked #15 of tourist attractions in Boston, on TripAdvisor. The North End is ranked #4. The Waterfront comes in at #13. Sooooo.... they're just making things up.

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The most important tourist attrction in America?

Cool story, bro. Is this a joke? I'm not even going to begin the list of other tourist attractions that are "more important" or more well visited, than Beacon Hill.

Ugh. Very simply, ADA compliance is not optional. Good for the Mayor for telling these NIMBYs that he is moving forward.

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We're not all pilgrims here.

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First of all, there was NEVER an argument made that the hill should not be handicapped accessible. So by continuing to provide that false impression, it provokes the comments that hill residents are being exclusive snots. Wrong. The hill is a very diverse place and we realize that the bricks are a mess and we need handicapped access. But it is fair to ask the city to approach it with a plan, and not to ramrod something that even the architectural commission thinks is a bad idea. The mayor basically showed up to a town meeting with an attitude, and his mind made up. He refused to discuss materials, which is all anyone really wanted to talk about, and he refused to discuss whether or not they're going to start chopping trees. Btw, most of the sidewalks are not able bodied accessible. They're old, skinny sidewalks. It's the nature of the neighborhood. We are not all "nobs" or rich people or insensitive. Reporter - you did quote mostly the old folks who stood up and talked. Some of them were a little out there. You should have infiltrated the crowd a little more to get a more balanced view of the community. I'm sure I'll get pummeled by this POV because so many of the readers love to rush to judgment on this topic.

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Infiltrated the crowd?

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I sat right in front of the lawyer who all but threatened a lawsuit; he seemed far from retirement age. Not sure how much more I could have infiltrated things.

Yes, the mayor (and for the record, I'm not a Walsh fanboy; I voted for the other guy in November) did show up with his mind made up on one issue: Beacon Hill is going to get ramps. Maybe he misjudged what people were saying about actually being in favor of making streets easier for the disabled, but after nearly three years, arguments over bricks begin to sound, I don't know, a bit obstructionist.

He seemed willing to consider alternatives to the sort of ramps us lesser mortals in places like Roslindale have been getting, but both his DPW commissioner and the gentleman in the wheelchair explained why no, 100% wire-cut bricks lovingly and artisanally inserted into place are not the answer and neither is virgin granite accents.

To be honest, the room was strong with the scent of exceptionalism. Yes, Beacon Hill is unique and charming and all. But I've been to community meetings in the Back Bay, whose residents are every bit as resistant to perceived changes in their neigbhborhood's historic character as people on Beacon Hill (to the point of claiming the Prudential Center isn't really part of the Back Bay) and yet, somehow, even those people found a way to allow ramps.

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Yo "Reporter"

...you low rapscallion!.

How dare you mock the preposterousness of these legends in their own minds?

People with lots of disposable income who don't get their way tend to hire expensive lawyers and go to court.

It's pretty cool that you induced one of these hoary fossils to sally forth from their leafy street holdfast to lob a piece of what passes for their mind.

The scent of exceptionalism can initially be beguiling, but soon comes to resemble a midsummer roadkill as one draws nearer.

Really?

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Sitting in front of the guy isn't infiltrating. Talk to people. Report. The ones who grabbed the mike were the among the most highly emotional. Like in the old newspaper world, the one's who wrote letters to the editor were the most highly agitated (usually)

But the sidewalks are the sidewalks. I highly doubt that even once the ramp work is done that anyone in a wheelchair will use the sidewalks because they are so narrow and uneven. Realistically, people who walk have a hard time so they walk in the street. You think they're going to rip up all the sidewalks?

Don't blame people who pay megabucks in taxes for having a point of view. They have a right. I've lived in Roslindale and Allston and Brighton. I'm not rich. But I understand why they should have a say in this too.

Beacon Hill is very diverse place?

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Oh, do tell!

Aside from that, from what I read, options where given, rejected and this whole debacle has dragged on for close, according to Mayor Walsh, to 2 1/2 years! Whether or not it was due to "exclusive snots", that long of a delay to make your hill's streets handicapped accessible is inexcusable, any way you cut it, hill rez.

And your comment "most of the sidewalks are not able bodied accessible"? Um, really? I am ambled body and have no problem walking (and running) around your tiny, skinny sidewalks, although the uneven bricks stink.

Of course Beacon Hill is diverse!

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Why, some of their best friends make only seven figures.
And others don't even have their own piano tuners, the poor dears.
But they are welcomed into the neighborhood all the same!

Take your misinformed politics of identity ...

... and shove it.

I've got more Section 8 housing on my block than you do on yours, I'll guarantee it. We've also got subsidized senior housing, and, early in the AIDS crisis when sick people were losing their apartments, we were out in front with specialized HIV+ housing. People from the neighborhood have been strongly and consistently active for decades in ensuring that the place continues to serve the needs of everyone and doesn't become some kind of gated, Disneyfied theme park for the rich. If you actually look at the facts, and at where people in the neighborhood are actually putting their time and money, rather than at some stupid sound bite, Beacon Hill's commitment to genuine diversity is apparent.

The only reason to play up the words of some politically tone-deaf nitwit who doesn't represent the rest of us and who decides to mouth off at a meeting, is to further some kind of agenda.

Don't they have

places for those wheelchair people to go rather than upsetting the entitled in the one neighborhood in Boston where the people and property are more beautiful than...you?

Jesus H. Christ

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it's not a museum or theme park. Some modernization needs to take place, DEAL WITH IT.

I'm still bullshit they took down the Charles St station pedestrian bridge (I know, not ADA compliant). But how did that get built and last for 75-80 years? This obsession with tourism and keeping everything looking like a theme park is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Not Fair To Other Neighborhoods

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All neighborhoods are not being treated fairly! Why does West Roxbury have to put up with ugly, neon yellow ramps?! We would be very happy with red or gray ramps surrounded by concrete!

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I wish I could have been at

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I wish I could have been at the meeting. I would have loved to see their faces as they were lumped in with the Back Bay, the South End and Bay village.

"We are not the South End"

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Read whatever you want into it.

I wasn't there, but I'm thinking "We are not the South End." refers to the fact that the South End has sidewalks that are 8 feet wide and Beacon Hill has sidewalks that are 4 feet wide, which is why the neighborhood is somewhat put out at the city's "one size fits all" solution. It was, after all, a meeting about the construction of sidewalks, and not about the social character of neighborhoods. But you want to read something else into it, be my guest.