ADA compliance, trees and diseases?

I lived in a block of Warfield Place for 12 years. A few years ago, I needed to find a ground floor apartment to accommodate a 12 year o...



I lived in a block of Warfield Place for 12 years. A few years ago, I needed to find a ground floor apartment to accommodate a 12 year old retired guide dog; it was heartbreaking having to leave the neighborhood because there was nothing affordable for me to rent.

I know Warfield Place well. I hiked it almost everyday. I have friends who live there and watch the trees. I sat in their yard for several days while they were delighted to see them, and being blind, I felt their presence passing through them. I have never had a problem with the lack of a flat or narrow sidewalk or road in some places on Warfield, and I have deliberately used this street to be among plants and away from traffic noise on Prospect Streets and Finn.

Countless times over the past three decades, I have contacted the Department of Public Works about icy, impassable snowy sidewalks, and those calls have always been ignored. I have smelled and reported gas leaks in specific streets of the city that have also gone unrecognized for years.

From a pedestrian point of view, or that of a blind or wheelchair user, just think of the south side of Prospect Street from Stoddard to the hospital. Think about the north side of the sidewalk from Warfield to King and you’ll find that too would be wheelchair impassable and, depending on which side of the street you are on, inaccessible to commercial destinations on King. Then there is the sidewalk which in places is cordoned off from State Street and Finn Street to Church Street, and the road on State Street from Church to Finn is pothole after pothole.

People who are blind or have reduced mobility are not the only ones who need sidewalks. People pushing strollers or the elderly also need to be safe and able to pass.

Warfield Place doesn’t lead anywhere and accessing it from nearby streets where the sidewalks are narrow, overgrown, or in poor condition is problematic. I am talking about infrastructure, and I cannot say that the city has its right priorities.

I have now read and heard that the cherry trees in Warfield Place are not sick. Indeed, according to an arborist, they are at a particularly beautiful and significant stage of life because of their very maturity.

Trees and people, people and trees. Last week I woke up thinking that I am sick, that cancer is eating away at my spine and pelvis. I am still standing and I have been told that I am the image of health. So far my limbs have no fungus, no rash, no burn. Should I be knocked down as soon as possible? Who am I hurting?

Again, take a walking tour and assess the sidewalks in the Prospect Street area. Stoddard on the southeast side of the street is a walking trip. The water trickles over huge areas below where tree roots protrude from the sidewalk.

Who would even think of removing these trees? The shade and coziness provided by the trees makes what remains of unpaved Northampton worth walking through. Walking up State Street in the partial shade of the trees along the stretch of road towards the old Serio Market is only a joy because of the bush and tree cover. Think of the treeless stretches like the last block of State and Finn Streets in King and you’ll feel the difference – it feels torn, dusty with salt, and crumbling broken sidewalk underfoot – if you’re blind anyway.

I am talking about the beauty and the necessity of plants to nourish our lungs, our body and our psyche. Repairing roads and sidewalks does not need to require mowing down life forms that do not have the power to protect themselves.

Once I could see and remember the color well. For those who find little pleasure or nourishment in the sight of the pink flowers and the design of the leaves and branches and the smell of the vegetation, I wonder where their food comes from. Fortunately, some people live on a huge property with their own little forest heckling them about what’s going on far from their kitchen, living room, or bedroom windows. For those who don’t have such a haven or green oasis, what we have is invaluable.

Deidre Muccio lives in Northampton.



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Newsrust - US Top News: ADA compliance, trees and diseases?
ADA compliance, trees and diseases?
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