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Somerville’s Curtatone Prevented from Hosting U.S. Surgeon General at Inaccessible Armory

by in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Health Care, Public Health & Safety
Posted on March 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm
Last Modified on April 22, 2012 at 11:56 am

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note:  response to Paulette Renault-Caragianes’ Guest Commentary here.

SOMERVILLE, MA:  Shape Up Somerville’s Mayor Curtatone, who announced on WGBH this week (Boston’s Growing Income Gap, hosted 3/20/11 by Kara Miller) that he is “advising the First Lady on the Let’s Move Initiative,” attempted to get the US Surgeon General’s launch of a major Public Health initiative at the inaccessible Somerville Armory this Friday (March 23, 2012).

As Curtatone is well aware, the Center for the Arts at the Armory facility, along with its many City-sponsored community programs, opportunities, and events – has been nonfunctional, unusable, and inaccessible to an entire class of residents; namely, persons with mobility and ambulatory disAbilities-since it opened in 2009.

The Somerville Armory owners are currently accruing a $500/day fine to the State, as a result of their failure to comply with the State Architectural Access Board’s order to make the Entrance ramp and threshold accessible by June 15, 2011.

Somerville’s Mayor Curtatone was very clearly  informed in May 2010, that the Armory cannot be considered a safe and accessible venue for any municipal events until that entrance ramp and other inaccessible features are fixed to industry standards. Curtatone has also been in the recent loop of communications regarding that fine penalty (which began tolling on October 31, 2011) ; and, the resulting suddenly-possible reconstruction plans for the Armory’s sidewalks,  entrance ramp and threshold.

Nevertheless, since May 2010, Curtatone has continued to launch new programs and events there frequently- such as the Winter Farmer’s Market, a program of the much-lauded Shape Up Somerville; the monthly Arts Salons; and, of course, his 5th-term Inaugural party this past January .

But at least this week’s potential push to ignore the civil rights of Americans with disAbilities- with the U.S. Surgeon General at his side- failed for Curtatone.

On Friday, March 23, 2012, the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, will formally launch the new Middlesex County’s “Mass in Motion” program activities.

As of 3:30 pm Thursday, that Press Conference has been moved from Somerville’s Armory to a different venue.  This was the result of the quick and committed response by a team who “gets” why disability rights and equity is good and necessary for everyone.

Kudos! to these wonderful leaders in the Patrick-Murray administration’s team:  Executive Office of Health & Human Services (EOHHS) Secretary JudyAnn Bigby,  Assistant Secretary Christine Griffin, EOHHS Office of Disability Policy and Programs, Commissioner John Auerbach, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Eileen Sullivan, Senior Program Director, Office of the Commissioner, DPH- who really did all the work to get the event changed, and to Stacey Monahan, EOHHS Chief of Staff who had the great idea to get the T to provide a shuttle service to and from this event.

Here’s the new announcement:


U.S. Surgeon General to anounce funding in Somerville on Friday
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded the Massachusetts Department of Health a $1.57 million Community Transformation Grant to promote health and wellness in Middlesex County.

United States Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, will formally launch the grant’s activities TOMORROW, at a press conference on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act:
March 23, 2012
10 a.m. Networking & Displays
10:30 a.m. Speaking Program
Now at the Somerville Holiday Inn
30 Washington St.
The grant will help reduce death and disability in the county from health-related factors such as poor nutrition, a lack of physical activity, and smoking. Work will focus on expanding efforts in tobacco-free housing, active living and healthy eating, quality clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) collaborated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) in applying for the Community Transformation Grant. This grant allows for the expansion of MDPH’s “Mass in Motion” initiative, which works to reduced obesity and supports MDPH’s smoking cessation and prevention activities.
MAPC will assist with program coordination in Middlesex County, providing grant coordination, technical assistance, and direct community funding and program management. MAPC will also manage some subcontracts, directly including youth interventions, clinical interventions, mini-grants and some technical assistance providers. Friday’s event will showcase some of the grant’s leading projects and partners.
Cities and towns involved in the Community Transformation Grant include Lowell, Everett, Malden, Medford, Waltham, Cambridge, Framingham, Marlborough, Hudson, Arlington, Belmont, Newton, Watertown, Melrose-Wakefield, Somerville, Stoneham, and Reading.
Join us Friday to learn more.
Questions? Contact MAPC Public Health Manager Mariana Arcaya at marcaya@mapc.orgor 617-451-2770 ext. 2050.  

Armory sidewalk, driveway, too-steep entrance rampabove:  South approach to Somerville’s Center for the Arts at the Armory facility, from the Benton @ Highland bus stop.
Armory sign on ramp railings shows cultural incompetence

above:  this notice is actually a barrier for people using the handrails. In addition, it makes it seem as though people with disAbilities are preventing people from locking their bikes in a convenient location.  Why can’t a sign simply be posted elsewhere saying, “please don’t park your bikes on ramp handrails?” (or something.)

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10 Responses to “Somerville’s Curtatone Prevented from Hosting U.S. Surgeon General at Inaccessible Armory”

  1. intrepid says:

    Shame, Shame, Shame.

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  2. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    The Armory is currently under construction fixing this issue which includes the ramp entrance and sidewalk.

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  3. Courtney O'Keefe says:


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  4. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    P.S. I love the fact that posting an FYI or answering a question on this website earns me a thumbs down.

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  5. 521CMR says:

    Ms. C O’Keefe: how did that happen? what do the tenants think? how long will construction take? can you post pictures with your response?

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  6. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    how did that happen?: There’s a construction truck in the driveway. I put 2 and 2 together after I saw the ramp and sidewalk dug up.

    how long will construction take?: Armory officials did not post a timeline, so I’m assuming not long enough where it would warrant one.

    can you post pictures with your response?: Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to photograph.

    Here comes the thumbs down…

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    • Ron Newman says:

      The temporary No Parking signs outside say March 26-30. The folks at the cafe say they expect construction will finish in time for Saturday’s farmers’ market.

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  7. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    Thanks, Ron!

    I drove by it last night & saw the front dug up, but didn’t see the sign.

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  8. eila says:

    Barry, thanks for making it clear, in your edit to “@SomervilleCity’s Retaliation Against Accessibility Whistleblower Casts Chilling Effect,” that this is about a facility, not the non-profit tenants within. I am now hearing that they were also very demoralized to have to deal with these issues; as it made them seem like they supported inaccessibility! Of course, they never were the problem; but they had to put up with the ongoing delays in fixing these issues, which must have been really hard for them. So, I see that I wrote “Center for the Arts at the Armory” in the description of the first photo above. To make sure it is clear, i’ve just added the word “facility.” thanks!
    btw, I hope the staff at this facility can start to enjoy some peace around these issues soon. I’ve never spoken to the staff (except for asking the manager, on March 17, 2010, if there were assistive listening systems in the performance hall), so hopefully at some point we can sit down and enjoy some time together- and heal. The rumors that have been swirling around this facility’s code issues have been harmful for all.

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