The Town of Amherst has received a Municipal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvement Grant from the Massachusetts Office on Disability. The Town will receive $44,100 to fund sidewalk and crosswalk work in downtown Amherst.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated, “Town staff have been aggressive about securing grants to make the Town more accessible to those with disabilities and and more friendly to those of all ages. This award will make it possible for Amherst to take the next step in our ongoing commitment to improving the condition and accessibility of our downtown sidewalks and crosswalks.”
The project will significantly reduce existing architectural barriers to persons with disabilities trying to safety navigate from downtown Amherst shops, restaurants, housing and social services. The project will replace two existing crosswalks and one sidewalk in downtown Amherst which are in poor condition and have created barriers for persons with disabilities trying to move through the densely populated downtown. The two crosswalks to be replaced are located at 76 North Pleasant Street, which is located in front of CVS and the second crosswalk is located at the corner of North Pleasant St and Cowles Lane, which is adjacent to Bruegger’s Bagels.
The sidewalk to be replaced is Pleasant Walk, which is a walkway located adjacent to the formerly occupied Starbucks space. Pleasant Walk is a direct route from downtown Amherst to the Clark House, Ann Whalen Apartments, John P. Musante Health Center, Bangs Community Center which houses the Senior Center, the Housing Authority Office, and a municipal parking lot.
Town Planner Maureen Pollock who is the staff liaison for the Town’s Disability Access Advisory Committee (DAAC), is serving as the project manager. Pollock stated, “Starting this Spring 2020, the Town of Amherst will be updating its ADA Self-Evaluation & Transition Plan. This Plan will identify operational, structural and communication barriers that limit the participation of people with disabilities. Based on its findings, the Plan will also include a list of prioritized projects meant to increase ADA compliance.”
Work on this project is expected to be completed this summer.