Transcript of "CAPS to AAB re: Armory Fine Abatement Decision"
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 1 of 7April 6, 2012Eileen Feldman, DirectorCommunity Access Project, SomervilleCAPSom@verizon.netThomas Hopkins, Executive DirectorDonald Lang, ChairMA Architectural Access BoardOne Ashburton Place, Room 1310Boston, MA 02108RE: V09-197 and C10 059Dear Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Lang and Board Members,CAPS has received the Armorys request, stamped 4/2/12, for abatement of the fine for the Armory.After reviewing the AABs attested Fine Decision, dated November 15, 2011; and the Armorysrequest for the abatement of fines, dated April 2 or 3, 2012, we request the following:For the MAAB to collect $45,500 from the Armory owners; and the use of these funds to benegotiated, with the AAB and the owners permission, between CAPS and current Arts At theArmory staff, to be used as a grant for a series of Community Civil Rights Conversations at theArmory. as described below in II. TABLE OF CONTENTSRE: CAPS REQUEST FOR DISTRIBUTION OF THE ACCUMULATED FINESpage 2: I. For the MAAB to collect $45,500 from the Armory ownerspages 2 and 3: II. the use of these funds to be negotiated, with the AAB and the ownerspermission, between CAPS and current Arts At the Armory staffRE: ANALYSIS OF THE OWNERS REQUEST FOR ABATEMENT OF THE FINESpage 3: III. Fine total is ~$75,500.pages 4 and 5: IV. The owners 1 explanation and 3 rationales for leniency are unproven,and not fairly balanced against the human capital losses experienced by persons with disabilities,and others, injured by these delays. • Due to weather considerations... • We have been under serious financial hardship.. • We are an asset to the community at large... • We have gone to considerable expense to comply with the Architectural Access Board...page 5: V. The Armory should accept the fine as a method of re-establishing theirstated aspirations to benefit the community.page 6: Appendix I- ongoing neighbor hostility towards CAPSpage 7 Appendix II- Partial list of programs offered by the Armory, 2009- present
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 2 of 7I. For the MAAB to collect $45,500 from the Armory ownersWhen the owners appeared in November 2009 requesting a Variance for the ramp, they weregranted it on the basis that the 9.8% slope was infeasible to cure without altering significanthistoric properties of that old ramp; namely that it was a faux-castle element. At that time, the costto remedy the ramps excessive slopes was estimated at $30,000. This was a $3 million dollarrenovation on a building that had just been bought for $2.6 million- the cost estimate to integrateequitable opportunities for persons with disAbilities to use this facility was less than .05% of theoverall costs already associated with this facility!The cost estimate for the Ramp & sidewalk alterations completed between March 26-30, 2012 was31,845.00 (CJ Doherty estimate, 3/15/12).CAPS would encourage the MAAB to forgive the owners $30,000 of the fine in recognition of theirefforts to raise the sidewalks and create a ramp with a slope of 8.8% maximum, rather than up to9.8%. Although this is not an ADA-accessible ramp- and should not be advertised as ADA-accessible- it is a significant improvement over what has been there, and operating to an exclusivepublic, since 2009.II. the use of these funds to be negotiated, with the AAB and the owners permission, betweenCAPS and current Arts At the Armory staffAt the October 31, 2011 Fine Hearing, participants saw a Notice for an MBTA Community hearingto be held at the Armory on November 2, 2011. This Notice explicitly misinformed the public that"The Armory is accessible for persons with disabilities."Eileen Feldman asked the owners and architect, "who is still advertising this misinformation?" Noresponse was forthcoming. The AAB informed the MBTA that the Armory is NOT yet anaccessible facility; and, the MBTA immediately moved that November 2, 2011 meeting to a(questionably) more accessible facility.Nevertheless, the City of Somerville suggested that the Armory would be an appropriate venue forthe U.S. Surgeon Generals launch of the "Mass in Motion" CDC/HHS-funded Middlesex CountyHealth & Wellness initiative, on March 23, 2012. Due to the inappropriateness of the Armory forsuch a unique public event, CAPS informed the State that the Armory is still an inaccessiblefacility. the State immediately moved that event.In direct response to the relocation of that event, the City of Somerville sponsored egregiousretaliation against us. During the week of construction, and continuing for an unknown period oftime, CAPS and Eileen Feldman are also the targets of follow-up copycat retaliators, along with arash of unfounded rumors, by individuals who are deeply immersed in the activities of the Ward 5in which the Armory is located.Regarding the copycat retaliatory information: "letter... a boost for the Armory community"-Pleasesee Appendix I.
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 3 of 7Regarding the rumors: For example, last week I was informed that I had "met with many staffpeople at the Armory," and that "members of CAPS came and made trouble." These are surpisingand completely unfounded rumors. Ive only spoken to one staff person at AATA forapproximately 5 minutes, at the most, on March 17, 2010. And, -no members of CAPS have neverstormed the castle!Due to the hostile community environment that was embolded by the recent egregiouslyretaliatory letter published by the City of Somerville against Eileen Feldman and CAPS, it appearsthat there are still severe attitudinal barriers preventing persons with disAbilities from beingliberated to enter the Armory without fear of retaliation or hostility.CAPS therefore requests that the AAB and the Armory owners negotiate an agreement to set-asidethe remaining $45,500 in fine funding to be used as a grant for a series of Community Civil RightsConversations at the Armory. Decisions regarding how this grant will be used will be made solelybetween CAPS and AATA staff persons, working together, to create this series designed to healand benefit residents of Somerville with special emphasis on civil rights issues.We only request that two vital requirements be firmly established in the administration of this fine-associated grant program:1. that the grant funds to be used solely as rent payments to cover this series of events at theArmory; and2. that All events within this series will be planned, facilitated and implemented only byindividuals who are non-City of Somerville personnel; or, if applicant/presenter/sponsor is a non-profit organization, this organization must have absolutely NO financial connections with the Cityof Somerville, from the time of their application until the day after their event is held.The reason for the stipulations ensuring that the City of Somerville not benefit in any wayfinancially or through PR and other assets, is: The City of Somerville acted in an egregiousmanner that generated a hostile environment, both for the AATA and CAPS, based on (nowpublished) presumptions that architectural accessibility improvements are insignificant and can bedeferred for as long as possible. These municipal-sponsored hostilities, retaliatory discrimination,and illegal practices must be dealt with in another arena, utilizing formal civil rights resolutionstandards.We hope that this can allow the Arts at the Armory staff who were also harmed by manyunfounded, injurious and libellious rumors, to heal alongside CAPS. Together, we can work tobenefit the community as a whole.RE: THE OWNERS REQUEST FOR ABATEMENT OF THE FINESIII. Fine total is ~$75,500.The owners failed to cure the noncompliance by the due date of June 15, 2011. By October 31,2011, no reasonable explanation for why the work was not completed was forthcoming, and theMAAB voted to issues fines of $500/day, which began tolling on October 31, 2011. The ramp didnot become functional for use by persons with disabilities until March 31, 2012.
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 4 of 7Therefore, the fine has accumulated for at least 151 days, and totals at least $75,500.IV. The owners 1 explanation and 3 rationales for leniency are unproven, and not fairlybalanced against the human capital losses experienced by persons with disabilities, and others,injured by these delays.The owners request for the relief and abatement of the fines is accompanied by no documents orother pertinent exhibits to substantiate the owners explanation of why the work was still deferreduntil the week of March 26-30, 2012. They provide 1 explanation for deferring the work untilMarch 26-30; and 3 rationales for why the fines should be abated. The explanation is:• "Due to weather considerations, EG; a potential hard freeze, none of the contractors we received bids from would do any concrete work until spring, 2012. The City of Somerville insists upon a 5 year guarantee for any work done on public property (sidewalks, in this case) Therefore, the contractors would not guarantee their work prior to March 21, 2012. We simply had no choice in the matter but to wait out the winter months. We commenced the renovations at the earliest possoble date, March 26-30, 2012.The owners rationales for leniency and fine abatement are:• We have been under serious financial hardship...• We are an asset to the community at large...• We have gone to considerable expense to comply with the Architectural Access Board... "CAPS response to each of these concepts is as follows:• Due to weather considerations... Since the owners have provided no proof of solicitations of bids with regards to the entrance ramp and sidewalks, we believe the owners have not established this as a proof. In addition, this was an especially warm winter with few freezes; and, the weather reports clearly indicated a number of unusually warm weeks between October 31, 2011 and March 26, 2012.• We have been under serious financial hardship... The owners have provided no proof that they are under "severe financial hardship," and, have been collecting rent from many non-profit tenants, plus a large and regular assortment of international, national, state, regional and local sponsors of culture, conferences and other amenitites. Yet, this entire time, all of these programs were operating exclusive of our participation and leadership. Any claims of hardship should be balanced against the severe hardships the excluded class has been dealing with.• We are an asset to the community at large... People with disabilities are also an asset to the community at large. However, even a short list of the types of programs we were excluded from (please see Appendix II) will prove that we suffered enormous losses of opportunities from the moment the Armory opened its doors to the public until now. Our assets were lost; and our rights to be integrated and welcomed members of the Armory community were utterly destroyed by the owners deferral of an accessible entrance ramp and threshold.• We have gone to considerable expense to comply with the Architectural Access Board... If we
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 5 of 7 stack up the owners expenses to "comply with the Architectural Access Board" alongside the number of hours and amount of energy the AAB has had to expend (over a 2.5+ year timeline) to deal with the owners unreasonable delay and trivializing attitude, such as that the code issues were merely "minor repairs"1 , we fully believe that the owners reasoning here is spurious at best.V. The Armory should accept the fine as a method of re-establishing their stated aspirations tobenefit the community.Substantial losses to residents with disabilities have been sustained. Many persons with disabilitieshave been unable to use this facilitys community amenities since it opened in February 2009.These ongoing conditions have created class separation, inequality and loss of opportunities forpersons with disabilities.For the loss of these economic, social, political and cultural opportunities and activities-including the loss of the ability to just drop in and mingle with neighbors and make new friendssince 2009- there is no remedy available for persons with disabilities.A partial list of the many local and municipal-sponsored educational, cultural, recreational, socialand political programs, opportunities and events that have been held in this facility, exclusive oftalented, creative, diverse and vibrant persons with disabilities, beginning when the Armoryopened in Winter, 2009 , continuously until March 31, 2012 is seen in Appendix II.Prior to completion of renovation; and again when the building was about to open to the public,the owner Joseph Sater stated his aspirations for this facility:October 2004: ""Hopefully this will be a small nucleus, a center that pulls neighbors and artiststogether and supports the city of Somerville and the Somerville Arts Council," Joseph Sater explainswhen we talk at the Middle East."2"January 2009: "Joseph Sater had a vision of turning the run-down Armory into a community artscenter for the city of Somerville.3Ongoing PR: "The new community arts center developed by Joseph and Nabil Sater of the MiddleEast. Arts at the Armory is devoted to celebrating dance, music, theater and visual arts whilepromoting arts afterschool and summer programs for children and youth. "4Now is as good a time as any to begin.Thank you.Sincerely, Eileen Feldman and Community Acces Project, Somerville1 In June 2010, the "Armory co-owner Joseph Sater told the public that the problems were “minor” and said that manyhad already been fixed. “On the door, you had this paper signage – they wanted us to paste numbers … we’ve donethat already. He’s also fixed non-compliant bathroom signage.” SEE:http://amandabouttown.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/accessibility-violations-at-armory/2 October 2004 http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/events/state/documents/04156142.asp3 Jan 09: http://somervillenews.typepad.com/the_somerville_news/2009/01/arts-at-the-armory-receives-entertainment-license.html4 http://tinyurl.com/82vhk57
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 6 of 7 Appendix I The below screenshot of the Ward 5 Online announcement shows the type of copycat retaliation attitudes we are now being exposed to, by people who are neighbors and leaders in the Armory community
CAPS Armory Fine Decision Statement, Request. April 9, 2012. page 7 of 7 APPENDIX IIPartial list of events, programs and amenities offered by the Armory, with an emphasis on City of Somerville programs. (Does the City of Somerville pay rent to the Armory?):• -2009: free citywide celebration on the ocassion of Somerville being named "All American City;"• -all of the 2011 season and November 2011- March 31, 2012 of the Winter Farmers Markets vendors and free events (a program of Shape Up Somerville, held every Saturday between November- May);• -"Spring Fever Markets" between Winter and Summer Farmers Markets- April and May 2011;• -Childrens after-school and summer programs;• -Weekly drop-in crafts classes for parents and children• -City of Somervilles Community Stakeholder Meetings, and final Community Presentation, called "SomerVision"- "to discuss Somervilles Future"- Winter, 2011• -the City of Somervilles CDBG-funded Housing Divisions Housing Symposium (Sept, 27, 2011) ;• Harvest Fest 2010 and 2011 (Oct. 9, 2010 and Oct. 15, 2011) ,• -the City of Somerville Arts Council Arts Salons programs, which began in the Fall, 2011;• Armory Cafe, open 7 days/week, offering food and drink, performance and shows (opened October 2011)• -Halloween "Ghost Stories" event with local politicians (Oct. 27, 2011),• -Chamber of Commerce "After Hours event (Dec. 1, 2011);• -Snow Malls- Somervilles Holiday Indoor Marketplace featuring local craftspeople, vendors (Dec2010 and Dec 2011)• -Curtatones 2012 Inaugural reception (Jan 2, 2012),• -Somerville Arts Council exhibit, Jan 2-29, 2012,• -Teen Empowerment Open Mic Nights, begun March, 2012