A review of the downtown area reviewed possible mobility barricades and opportunities for improvement as part of the Gardner Destination Downtown project. Submitted photo

Nine members of the implementation committee, steering committee, city staff and consulting team for the Gardner Destination Downtown project walked and rolled (those in an electric wheelchair) through an eight-block study area of Downtown Gardner.
The group viewed elements of the public streetscape and parking areas with the intent to identify barriers to access and mobility and discuss opportunities for improvements.
Issues large and small were identified, including large cracks or shifts in the public sidewalks, narrow sidewalks, sidewalk obstructions, and availability and construction of ADA parking spaces.  In some cases, steps or high door thresholds and the lack of handrails or supports make it difficult or impossible for those in wheelchairs or using walkers to access businesses.
The team discovered some positive measures had been taken by some local businesses to accommodate mobility for all, such as door ringers that would alert businesses that assistance was needed at the front entry, instructions to enter via a rear ADA access, and even a bell and sign alerting customers that a mobile ramp could be temporarily placed to permit access.
The team learned from city staff about ADA requirements and when they are triggered and recognized that even though full compliance may not be achievable in some cases, conditions can be improved.  The team also discovered the role that street trees play in making the streetscape more livable in hot climate conditions.
Team input will be used in creating the concept plans for streetscape improvements that will be introduced at future meetings for the Gardner Destination Downtown plan.