Riparius train station to be handicapped accessible

RIPARIUS - A train station owned by Warren County has been operated without a federally compliant handicap access ramp for nine years, supervisors discovered recently.

Further, newly-constructed train platforms in Hadley, Stony Creek and Thurman do not have compliant handicap ramps, making them illegal structures as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

The platforms were partially funded by federal revitalization grants.

A ramp is in place at the Hadley station, but is not wide enough to meet ADA standards, supervisors learned.

"How did these plans ever get approved by this board without someone realizing these ramps were required," said Queensbury Supervisor-at-Large Fred Champagne. Champagne's sentiments were echoed numerous times, as supervisors realized that they had approved construction proposals for the newly constructed platforms from private engineering firm Clough Harbor that lacked the ramps.

"Did we build or operate illegal structures?" Johnsburg Supervisor and train advocate Sterling Goodspeed asked county Department of Parks and Recreation Director Paul Butler.

To which, Butler gave a simple, but clear response.

"I would have to say yes we did," Butler said.

During the last several years, Warren County has poured more than $2,000,000 into train platforms in the towns of Hadley, Thurman and Stony Creek. Proponents of the scenic tourist train have argued the investment will bring huge amounts of tourist dollars to communities that don't benefit from the summer tourism boom on the scale of Lake George or Queensbury.

"I just can't keep supporting this money pit," Glens Falls Supervisor-at-Large Bill Kenny said last month in apparent disgust.

Supervisors repeatedly hammered Warren County Department of Public Works Director Bill Lamy, as to how such an oversight could occur.

"I don't have a vote, only you, the members of this board do," Lamy said. "I suspect that the ramps were a casualty of cost-cutting measures approved by you not me."

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