A group of Beacon Hill residents may take legal action against the city over Mayor Marty Walsh's plan to soon install sidewalks ramps for the disabled in the historic neighborhood.
The Beacon Hill Civic Association is weighing its options after a meeting late last week in which Walsh said the city will soon move forward with plans to install tactile warning strips and ramps that make getting around the neighborhood safer for people with disabilities. The plans have previously been rejected by the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission.
"We haven't ruled anything out, so all I can say is everything is on the table," said Mark Kiefer, president of the association, which was formed by residents in 1922 to protect Beacon Hill's historic residential character. "We will continue to do what we have been doing, which is to advocate for innovate, long-term comprehensive accessibility improvements for the neighborhood which meet or exceed latest [Americans with Disabilities Act] standards, but also are historically sensitive and protect our brick sidewalks, gas lamps and trees."
The issue has involved the design of the strips. Beacon Hill residents have previously said they wanted granite strips rather than the yellow or terra cotta ones used elsewhere in the city. This time, the association was disappointed with the lack of a public process before Walsh's decision and said they were concerned that it would set a precedent.
"We're very concerned that the same public safety exclusion that the mayor has used to bypass the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission on the ramps issue could eventually be used to remove brick sidewalks, gas lamps and trees. From that perspective it's a very dangerous precedent," Kiefer said.
A spokeswoman for Walsh said Tuesday night that city plans to continue with work to install the ramps and strips.
"The action we have proposed for the Beacon Hill neighborhood is in the interest of public safety," said Kate Norton, Walsh's spokeswoman. "The city plans to continue moving forward."