Readers Write: Floral Park falls short on the disabled

Readers Write: Floral Park falls short on the disabled

When? When will disabled residents be allowed to participate in our community unconditionally?

For nearly 20 years now, I have been speaking out on behalf of the disabled community in Floral Park, imploring our Village government to create a more inclusive environment. From zero-step entry storefronts, to accessible playgrounds, to public transportation, to our Village Hall where government proceedings are held, every single day. And yet once again, I was reminded that disabled residents are considered second-class citizens in the Village of Floral Park.

Most recently, I was denied entry to Village Hall for a public hearing. As was vehemently stated to me a few months prior, there would always be an attendant at the ready to assist with the mechanical stair lift at public meetings. This time, and many times in the past, there wasn’t, and the handicapped-accessible door to get into the building was locked. I was told moments later that, in fact, the mechanical lift was broken entirely.

No sign on the door, no notice of alternate plans for anyone who might want to attend the meeting. Nothing. No regard. After it was realized I wanted to attend the meeting, I was offered a “phone in” via FaceTime. I declined because I was unable to control my anger and frustration and did not want to speak out of turn. Instead, I conveyed my thoughts on the public matter and asked that the individual please relay my message at the hearing.

WHEN? When will disabled citizens of Floral Park be able to enter buildings through the front doors? When will disabled citizens be able to carry out everyday civic matters independently? When will disabled citizens be able to attend public gatherings in person? When will disabled citizens be able to access events without the risk of being abandoned by decrepit and faulty machinery? When do the disabled citizens, taxpayers of Floral Park, gain back their dignity? When will disabled citizens be considered at all?

I implore our Village government to convene a special task force to address the needs of its disabled residents. This task force should advise the Village Board in all matters, including, but not limited to emergency response and preparedness, village beautification, website design, library, pool and recreation, zoning, planning and development, cultural and community affairs, and everything in between. The Village government must become more aware, sensitive, and responsive to the disabled community.

The Village Board must take heed of the recommendations put forth by the task force in sincerity and with purpose. Members of the task force should be chosen through a public open-call for volunteers and represent various perspectives in disability life. This task force must prevail and work in earnest. It must never exist for “show.”

Following the conclusions and recommendations of the task force, it is further suggested that the Village Board permanently install a Compliance Oversight Committee to ensure all changes agreed upon are carried out to completion and to avoid any future “oversights” that impinge upon the rights of disabled residents of Floral Park.

The Village Board must ensure that the dignity and rights of every resident of Floral Park are preserved and respected.

Nadia Holubnyczyj-Ortiz

Village of Floral Park

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