WASHINGTON, DC—(Marketwired – May 09, 2016) – Today's New York Times highlighted concerns over accessibility to the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Four Freedoms Park on New York's Roosevelt Island. In the four years since the park was opened, the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy has maintained that the design calls for a “barrier–free illusion” to enhance views, while the New York Mayor's Office for People With Disabilities has advocated for ramps and railings that would make the park more accessible for wheelchair users.
Paralyzed Veterans of America, the only veterans service organization solely representing veterans and all people with spinal cord injury or disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), today reacted to the ongoing issues with this memorial to the nation's 32nd president that is maintained and operated in partnership with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
Statement from Paralyzed Veterans of America Acting Executive Director Sherman Gillums:
“We applaud the New York Times for drawing national attention to something that might be considered a local issue, in a local park. Anytime a public space is not fully accessible to all, it is indicative of a larger, more pervasive issue of discrimination that deserves attention.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed more than 25 years ago, promises equality of opportunity by prohibiting disability–based discrimination and removing barriers to participation for people with disabilities. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park was in planning for more than two years before construction began in 2010. Paralyzed Veterans of America sees no acceptable reason it should not be fully accessible to all Americans.
“In the article, the president of the conservancy says the consequences of compromising the architect's original design vision by making the park fully accessible 'outweighed the value.' The value of the civil rights of our nation's veterans and all persons with disabilities should outweigh design vision and budget constraints.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a memorial to our 32nd President, who used a wheelchair during his presidency due to polio. Paralyzed Veterans of America supported efforts to ensure that he would be memorialized as a wheelchair user as part of the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC. The statute of FDR using a wheelchair was dedicated in 2001.
While some modifications have been made to make the park more accessible since it opened in 2012, the park's sunken terrace with a popular vantage point of the East River, can only be reached by climbing steps. New York City officials are withholding a permanent certificate of occupancy and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing until the accessibility dispute is resolved.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of AmericaÂ is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans withÂ spinal cord injuryÂ orÂ disease. For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received theÂ benefitsÂ earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and fundedÂ research and educationÂ in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensureÂ accessibilityÂ in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34Â chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and theirÂ caregiversÂ in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)