The City of Bremerton recently put up a sign at the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial at Evergreen Park warning those in wheelchairs, or those who have other accessibility issues, to use caution when maneuvering the twisting path leading to steel beams from the World Trade Center.
The sidewalk, designed to invoke thoughts of the flight path of the planes that hurtled into the Twin Towers, is not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Bremerton Parks Director Wyn Birkenthal said he installed the sign after watching three different people in wheelchairs struggle to navigate the pathway. Birkenthal said that the designs for the site were ADA compliant, but it’s now apparent that steep cross-slopes on the pathway can send wheelchair users and others into steep downslopes.
“In its design it was ADA compliant and in its execution it came out not perfect in ADA compliance,” Birkenthal said.
Hence the need for the caution sign.
“What I’ve discovered with this pathway is it doesn’t perfectly meet the ADA code and I think the best thing to do is let people know that you’re going to need to use some caution,” Birkenthal said. “It may be difficult for some folks, navigable for others and navigable for others with some degree of difficulty. I have watched three people navigate the path in wheelchairs and I thought the best thing to do was be honest about it.”
Birkenthal said the path will be removed and replaced in 2015 as part of a larger project in the southeast corner of the park. The city plans to remove a wastewater pump house from near the shoreline and will incorporate the rebuild of the pathway into that project. Birkenthal said the path will be rebuilt from the memorial to the parking lot after the Highland Avenue right-of-way is removed and covered with grass.
Birkenthal said the city will look at every avenue of possible funding for the Highland Avenue right-of-way removal and rebuild of the path to the memorial.
“Our first goal, would be to try and stay with the spirit of the project which has been that the immediate memorial infrastructure comes at no cost to the local tax base,” Birkenthal said.
Despite the non-compliance of the pathway, Birkenthal spoke fondly of the memorial and effort to have it built.
“It was a volunteer initiative and it was executed really well,” he said. “Does it have flaws? Yeah, the path is a flaw. But on balance, it’s a wonderful project that had a lot of thought go into the complexity of its design. In terms of the design fitting into the site, it’s wonderful.”