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Neighbors Don't Want 'Ugly' Wheelchair Ramps on East River Esplanade

 The Parks Department is planning three ramps at East 81st (seen here), 82nd and 83rd streets for better accessibility to the East River Esplanade.
The Parks Department is planning three ramps at East 81st (seen here), 82nd and 83rd streets for better accessibility to the East River Esplanade.
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

YORKVILLE — Neighbors don't want the city to add a pair of wheelchair-accessible ramps leading to the East River Esplanade, calling the proposed structures cheap and "ugly."

The city's Department of Parks and Recreation presented plans for the two metal ramps that would connect East 82nd and 83rd streets to John Finley Walk and the East River Esplanade, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The first ramp would jut out onto the sidewalk at East 82nd Street from John Finley Walk, turn north and then turn back west along the north side of the street, according to Parks representatives.

The second ramp would rise up to East 83rd Street to form a landing from John Finley Walk since the street is higher than the Esplanade, the reps noted.

Both ramps would be constructed out of metal and cost roughly $100,000 to construct, they said.

(Credit: NYC Parks)
(Credit: NYC Parks)

But residents and Community Board 8 members complained about the proposed ramps' appearance, saying they'd prefer brick-and-concrete structures instead. 

"Hospital railing is nicer than this," said board member Rita Popper. "This is industrial, it is ugly, it is noisy and it will cost you more to take this out and replace it."

Member Craig Lader said they looked "just like temporary ramps."

"The concern I have is when we you have metal, it still seems more of a stop-gap measure than a permanent fixture," he said. "How can something like this cost $100,000?"

The Parks Department doesn't have any more than $100,000 in its budget to build the ramps, the reps explained. About $70,000 would go toward their construction, with the rest of the money going toward design and supervision.

Constructing the ramps with masonry like some residents suggested would cost at least twice the current price tag, which isn't in the department's budget, they added.

The reps admitted that the plans weren't the best they could do but had no other choice. 

"This is not the optimal construction," one of them said. "This is all we could afford."

Coming back with new plans for brick-and-concrete ramps would require additional funding and force the city to wait even longer make this part of the Esplanade ADA-compliant, they noted.

CB8 members said they'd work with the Parks Department and elected officials to secure more funding rather than OK the metal ramps, but the board ultimately did not vote on the plan.

In September last year, the city scrapped plans for a ramp at East 81st Street because there were so many complaints about the amount of space it would have taken up, potentially blocking service entrances to residential buildings.

The Parks Department will go back to the drawing board to come up with the better solution, but for now it's sticking to the proposal for the metal ramps at 82nd and 83rd streets to bring accessibility to the Esplanade sooner.

The newly rehabbed pedestrian bridge at 81st Street will be complete by the end of June, according to Steve Simon, Manhattan chief of staff for the department.

In the meantime, Parks reps said they'd work with CB8 to work on better versions of the ramps.

Examples of what the ramps could look like.(Credit: NYC Parks)