WARRENSBURG A local man who’s fought the state for decades for disabled access to recreational forest areas — and 11 years ago won a landmark federal case over the issue — is now pledging to go to jail if the state doesn’t live up to that court decision.
Ted Galusha of Warrensburg, who was ticketed this summer for “Disobeying a Sign” in the Hudson River Recreation Area, is headed for a showdown Wednesday Oct. 10 in Warrensburg Town Court.
Tuesday, he said he was ready to detail how the state Department of Environmental Conservation hasn’t complied with a consent decree in the 2001 court case that required the state to open up over 100 miles of roads to motorized use by the disabled and make about $4.8 million in improvements to campground facilities, picnic areas, parking lots, restrooms, showers and boat launches to accommodate those with mobility issues.
The federal suit, fought by Galusha and volunteer attorney Alvin Sabo, had charged that the the state had violated the civil rights of Galusha and other area residents with mobility issues — rights guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
At the time of the court decision, lawyers, state officials, environmental groups, and advocacy groups for the disabled all hailed the ensuing settlement as landmark agreement that would have national implications in assuring adequate access to forest lands and recreational facilities by citizens with disabilities.
But although the settlement called for the state to accomplish that long list of improvements within 18 months, much of it wasn’t completed five years later.
And now, Galusha has seen his own favorite camping spot DEC-managed Buttermilk area of the HRRA in Lake Luzerne have the number of campsites reduced, and its amenities for the disabled removed or degraded — even trees planted by the state in parking areas and former campsites, plus boulders blocking campsite entrances and picnicking areas.