Historic Preservation + DisAbility Rights- How to Ensure Both?


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The Community Access Project, in partnership with the Boston Center for Independent Living, provides a letter to the MA Architectural Access Board and the Beacon Hill Architectural commission to encourage and support the development of accessible housing within the Beacon Hill Historic District. October 2011.

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Historic Preservation + DisAbility Rights- How to Ensure Both?

  1. 1. October 27, 2011Boston Center For Independent Living Community Access ProjectKaren Shneiderman, Senior Advocacy Specialist Eileen Feldman, Director60 Temple Place P.O. Box 434Boston, MA 02111 Somerville, MA 02143RE: Meeting with the MA Architectural Access Board and the Beacon Hill ArchitecturalCommission, October 31, 2011- Regarding 40 Temple Steet Boston, MAAAB Docket #V11-137 and BHAC Application 11.1137 BHMA Architectural Access BoardDonald Lang, Chair and Thomas Hopkins, Executive DirectorContact: kate.sutton@state.ma.usOne Ashburton Place - Room 1310Boston, MA 02108Beacon Hill Architectural CommissionJoel Pierce , Chair and D. Bryan Glascock, DirectorContact: cailtin.greeley@cityofboston.govRoom 801 - Boston City Hall,Boston MA 02201Dear Mr. Lang, Mr. Pierce, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Glascock, and all Board Members of AAB andBHAC,The Boston Center for Independent Living and the Community Access Project have a partnershipin reviewing, analyzing and providing comments and recommendations regarding architecturalaccessibility topics impacting the Greater Boston area (Metro Boston and 39 surroundingcommunities).We would like to contribute to this important dialogue between the Massachusetts AAB and theBeacon Hill AC because, these two coevolving necessities- ensuring that 21st century public-useprograms and facilities are usable and barrier-free; and, ensuring the architectural conservation ofBeacon Hills precious historic features- converge to impact all future leadership, educational andpolitical opportunities for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth.The rehabilitation of 40 Temple Street with an accessible Front entrance will be a win-win-win,because it can unite diverse stakeholders, principles of sustainable stewardship, and thecommunitys stated aspirations.The 40 Temple Street project will rehabilitate a property that has deteriorated over time, whileprolonging the integrity of this building as a residential-use facility.The applicant has developed a feasible design that will alter the entry vestibule by removing stepsand lowering doors to grade; re-using the existing door and side-lights if possible; and installing anew transom window above the door.
  2. 2. This design will allow the owner to retain and repair historic materials, while meeting threenecessary and mutually dependent objectives: 1: fulfilling this public accomodations accessibility mandates1; 2. preserving and sustaining the use of Beacon Hills existing housing stock while making this building more functional for current and future users2; and 3. contributing to the success of the Beacon Hill communitys noble aspirations3.We respectfully offer the following four points to encourage the acceptance of the 40 Temple St.Front Entry Design: • 40 Temple Street lodging house is a place of public accommodation and it is feasible to comply with Federal law at 28 CFR 36; • 40 Temple MA lodging house is a privately financed building that is open to and used by the public. This Front Entry design provides a technologically feasible plan to comply with State requirements at 521 CMR, and will provide substantial benefit to persons with disabilities; • Temple Street is part of an evolving, contemporary urban residential community; and • There is a demonstrated need for accessible housing options in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.40 Temple Street lodging house is a place of public accommodation and it is feasible to complywith Federal law at 28 CFR 36This lodging house is a place of public accommodation (see 28 CFR 36.104) and must adhere tothe Federal Department of Justices 2010 Title III ADA regulations, which states, "A publicaccommodation shall not subject an individual or class of individuals on the basis of a disability ordisabilities of such individual or class, directly, or through contractual, licensing, or otherarrangements, to a denial of the opportunity of the individual or class to participate in or benefitfrom the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of publicaccommodation." [ref: 28 CFR 36.202(a)]1 Lodging House defined: 28 CFR §36.104. Nondiscrimination in Public accomodations: 28 CFR §36.202(a). HistoricPreservation, Alterations: 28 CFR §36.405.2 The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Friends of the National Center for Preservation Technology andTraining developed the Pocantico Proclamation on Sustainability and Historic Preservation in June 2009. Threepremises of sustainable practices are developed; the third is the Equity Imperative, which states, "Our consumptionpatterns must be altered to foster social equity, cultural diversity, and survival ofall species." See Pocantico Proclamation at: http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/sustainability/additional-resources/Pocantico-Proclamation.pdf3 The Beacon Hill Civic Association conducted a comprehensive community-wide dialogue to assess the needs andaspirations of Beaacon hill residents in 2008 and published A Plan for the Neighborhood, which is found at:http://bhcivic.org/pdf/about/a_plan_for_the_neighborhood.pdf
  3. 3. It is feasible for the 40 Temple St. rehabilitation project to overcome some of its present structuralbarriers in a manner that does not threaten or destroy the historic significance of this building. TheProject owners are fully capable of adhering to Federal Historic Preservation mandates as found in28 CFR §36.4054, and of complying with their mandated code requirements with minimal materialloss and visual change to this facility.BCIL and CAPS thanks the architects and Project Managers for developing a feasible plan that willprovide certain sustainable accessibility capabilities within the residential accommodationsprovided at 40 Temple Street.40 Temple MA lodging house is a privately financed building that is open to and used by thepublic. This Design Plan provides a technologically feasible alternative to certain requirementsat 521 CMR, and will provide substantial benefit to persons with disabilities.The Massachusetts Regulations at 521 CMR, have been developed and amended by experts indesign and usability, who are the Staff and Board members of the Architectural Access Board.They are tasked with developing and enforcing regulations designed to make public buildingsaccessible to, functional for, and safe for use by persons with disabilities.5Public buildings are buildings constructed by the Commonwealth or any political subdivisionthereof with public funds and open to public use, as well as privately financed buildings that areopen to and used by the public, such as 40 Temple St..BCIL and CAPS support this design plan,which will enable the proprieters at 40 Temple Street toprovide an accessible entrance so that people with disabilities can equitably and substantiallybenefit from the housing opportunities at this prime location.Temple Street is part of an evolving, contemporary urban residential communityThe 40 Temple Street lodging house is a significant property within the Historic Beacon HillDistrict created by St. 1955, c. 616 [101-103]. It is across the street from the relatively new SuffolkLaw School building at 41 Temple Street, which was commemorated in 1966.As a result of the major Temple street reconstruction project; plus the auto-restrictive policymaking that occurred in the early 1970s , Temple Street evolved into a decreased auto trafficenvironment, with additional and wider east and west brick sidewalks, a narrowed roadway toaccommodate only one travel lane with service pull-offs; and, No Parking restrictions. Thesedevelopments enabled this residential/university street to offer a pedestrian link betweenGovernment Center, North Station and the State House.4 28 CFR § 36.405 Alterations: Historic preservation can be found online at:http://tinyurl.com/3sdkzen5 This section relies on Mass.gov e-access information found at http://tinyurl.com/yj7x73c
  4. 4. Today, the brick sidewalks along Temple Street continue to present a difficult pedestrianenvironment for pedestrians of all ages who use wheeled mobility devices, strollers, canes andwalkers; nevertheless,in 2011, users of all gender types, abilities, ages, races, ethnicities and economic class have gainedequal civil rights to enjoy, in the most integrated manner possible, all the freedoms, liberties,opportunities and pursuits that are available within the contemporary social, educational andcommunity fabric of Temple Street, Beacon Hill, Massachusetts. above: Temple Street, Beacon Hill (1969). from http://www.law.suffolk.edu/about/history/image.cfm?PhotoNum=SU-0098above: image on p.10 from the Beacon Hill Civic Associations 2008 Plan for the Neighborhood. http://bhcivic.org/pdf/about/a_plan_for_the_neighborhood.pdf
  5. 5. There is a demonstrated need for accessible housing opportunities in the Beacon Hillneighborhood.The Beacon Hill/Back Bay neighborhoods include as many as 12% of households who areaccommodated within group quarters and are relatively short-term residents associated witheducational and political opportunities abounding in this neighborhood.6Yet, although there are certain affordable opportunities for individuals and families with physicallydiverse abilities (such as the Joy St. residences); the entire Beacon Hill Historic neighborhood, withits approximately 5,404 housing units7 has few, if any, available accessible or adaptable housingopportunities for people who need to live in the District and require structurally accessible units.8In summary: We strongly support the Applicants Front Entry Design Plan, which will enable theproprietors of the 40 Temple St. lodgings to provide an accessible housing choice for visitingscholars, students and other individuals living with various physical disabilities, who need to livein a lodging facility within Beacon Hill.We believe that history will support the conclusion that Accessibility is a threshold SustainabilityPrinciple. The beneficial consequences of maximizing architectural accessibility accrue to anentire community, not just to a class of individuals known as "persons with disabilities." BeaconHills evolving accessibility improvements will increase this neighborhoods social capital; while,supporting the diversity initiatives of the City of Boston and Massachusetts.We stand at the ready to collaborate and support continuing discussions of these importantthemes.Thank you very much.Sincerely,Eileen Feldman - CAPSom@verizon.netKaren Schneiderman - KSchneiderman@bostoncil.org6 See the Boston Parks & Recreation Master Plan, athttp://www.cityofboston.gov/parks/pdfs/os3b.pdf: "Group quarters accommodate 12% ofhouseholds, likely due to the number of college students and some lodging house tenants. "(p. 46)7 BRAs demographic profile of Beacon Hill, 2005-2009:http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/pdf/ResearchPublications//BeaconHillACSNBHD.pdf8 The MassAccess registry (http://www.massaccesshousingregistry.org/) reports that, at present, theonly accessible/adaptable units in the entire Back Bay area are at the Clarendon residencies.