Bar, Jersey City, in battle over wheelchair ramp

April 19, 2011 2:36:02 PM PDT
Owners of a bar and grill in Jersey City are upset after a ramp that made their business handicapped accessible was removed by contractors working for the city.

Now they're told if they want it replaced they have to do it themselves.

Jersey City's Newark Avenue streetscape project is a multimillion dollar federally funded effort that includes, among other things new sidewalks and curbs, and upgraded handicap ramps.

But the owner of Abbey's Pub and Grill accuses the city of tearing out his old wheelchair ramp, as part of the street improvements, and then refusing to put it back, despite promising to do so.

"They assured me, 'It won't be a problem. It's going to be the same way if anything it's going to be better," said Abbey Tarei, the pub's owner.

But the city says it turns out the original ramp was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore could not be rebuilt using federal funds.

"It had previously been a step that concrete had been poured over to make it into a ramp. It was illegally done and it wasn't compliant to ADA specifications," said Jennifer Morrill, Jersey City spokeswoman.

Though Tarei argues, no one ever complained about the old ramp so what's the problem?

The city counters it simply wasn't on their radar until now.

City architects and engineers have made suggestions on how the pub's entrance can be made wheelchair accessible on the inside, but the owner doesn't believe he should have to foot the bill.

And he says his two wheelchair bound regulars shouldn't have to suffer either.

"It's a travesty that there doing all this for the handicapped, meanwhile, our regular handicapped customers, by doing this can't come to the place," Tarei said.

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