Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Elderly/Handicap Accessible Studio Space -- What is WBCR's board of directors waiting for?

WBCR-LP is supposed to be community radio. Yet, there are people in Great Barrington who are unable to become active participants in this empowering low-power FM experiment because these folks simply cannot physically navigate the obtacle course that the studio presents at its current locale.

Problems abound: There is no ramp to overcome WBCR's entrance step, no ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible parking, no accessible bathroom (let alone ADA-compliant - the toilet sits throne-like atop a high stoop). Try navigating with a cane, walker or wheelchair the uneven gravel walkway that steeply descends before ending in a hairpin turn at WBCR's rear entrance (just beyond which is an embankment that drops precipitously to the Housatonic River below -- think about this next time you sure-footed types bound into the studio after a snow).

Last year, when presented with this litany, the WBCR board wisely created a search committee tasked with the problem of locating new studio space that would meet the physical needs of everyone. In the course of its diligent work, the committee found usable and available space around town. One especially promising set of rooms on Main Street was being used by Berkshire Community College's local extension. That deal apparently fell through because WBCR's board failed to act fast enough to obtain the lease. The station lost out to a competing tenant who was ready, willing, and able to sign on the dotted line.

Fast forward to today. Real estate in Berkshire County (like most other places around the country) is in the depths of a buyer's market, and sellers and agents will do just about anything to move land, commercial buildings, rentals - you name it (especially during this early Spring lull before the start of the tourist season).

If WBCR's board of directors is serious about dealing with this real problem of non-ADA-compliant, inaccessible studio space, then now is the time to act.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The call to lead by example. Should a community media organization set the example for other community businesses by taking a more pro active and concerned posture regarding the ADA. Perhaps it would become a higher priority if the availability of public funds would be dependent upon their providing ADA compliant access.

Friday, July 13, 2007 5:32:00 PM  

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