To the editor:
In Fall 2018, when state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi came to introduce herself to the upper middle-class community center, some of us senior citizens were impressed by her passionate story of her grandparents — one who had ended her golden years in a nursing home, and one who had enjoyed his last days in the comfort of his home.
Obtaining the rare privilege of an individual appointment to meet with her at her East Bronx office, she had enthusiastically offered me her protection, issuing a “letter of support” — something I had never been aware of before — as I had respectfully refused her offer to send one of her staff members to assist me during the masonry and hydraulic work the management had finally planned — for 15 days of habitability disruption — to repair the steam pipe just from my lived-in unit.
In the past three years, my periodic feedback on the Amalgamated-Park Reservoir Corp.’s management of the 1957 Mitchell-Lama Park Reservoir three buildings and 275 family units has been shared with Sen. Biaggi as well as with the city’s homes and community renewal commissioner who, in 2018, had managed to keep our project from another attempt at gentrifying privatization.
But the state actually overseeing remained just a promise, even prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Park Reservoir board, for years, has talked about its plans of long-overdue capital improvements while assuming more mortgages per its own choice of priorities. Building 3 — the only one without a basement — collects its garbage on the main floor, from where the stench travels up in any season.
The board, under the same group of shareholders — supported by a state colleague of Sen. Biaggi and very close to its legacy entourage — has not yet provided the proper access for individuals with physical disabilities, although it is aware that it is impossible to open the heavy double doors of the main entrance, and it is very difficult to enter through the service heavy door, on slanted ground, that leads to the garbage open area.
Ordinary shareholders with physical disabilities deserve some equal respect.
My practical suggestion of creating a street-level entrance through the spacious garden shop — at least while the board materializes its promise of costly megalomaniac beautification of the lobby — might solve the problem. At least temporarily. An alternative would be to divide in two the few large steps of the lobby by adding a ramp with supporting rails for the easy and safe accessibility of wheelchairs.
Either solution will have to include automatic doors, like in other buildings under the same housing administration management.
Obviously, as a senior with physical limitations, my walking on two quad canes instead of using the power wheelchair in order to enter Building 3 and make the steps of the lobby to reach the elevator by now has come to its end.
Being a content septuagenarian, my personal independence — not only in voting for the politicians I want to trust — is extremely essential to my well-being, probably for some more comfortable years.
No senior or disabled person should be deprived in a state-subsidized project of their freedom to go in and out of their building. Sen. Biaggi might want to now intervene to solve this absurd unfairness against a senior with a documented history of survival to the local housing establishment’s notorious tactics of intimidation.
Now that the legislative sessions and the voting are over, Sen. Biaggi might want to dedicate some of her actual attention not just to the East/South Bronx, where she distributed meals during the pandemic and to the upper middle class in the Riverdale and Westchester communities, but also to the Kingsbridge and Van Cortlandt Park communities within her office area ZIP code 10463, squeezed between Broadway and the Grand Concourse, as we are indeed within her district too.