A Beautiful New Sidewalk Section Plus an Elevator Plus Automatic Door Openers Make the South End Branch "Fully" Handicapped Accessible at Last

Head librarian Anne Smart and library patron Marian Ellwood love the newly repaired sidewalk The South End Library's newly repaired sidewalk has completed a long process to achieve full handicapped access to the building. In the past, the library has been more welcoming to its physically challenged users than most BPL branches because the previous BPL president, Bernard Margolis, had an elevator installed to the second floor  in 1996 --at a cost of about one million dollars. A few years ago, then-FOSEL president Glyn Polson was able to get a grant from a local community fund to have automatic door openers added as well, hoping to put the finishing touch on handicapped access at the library. But wheelchairs and strollers were still hard to navigate right in front of the library's entrance where the pavement was in terrible shape. It was an open invitation to the gods of broken ankles, sprained feet, and cracked hips. Patrons complained to the staff. the staff complained to higher-ups. Nothing changed.

But all that is now behind us. A phone call last year by State Rep. (and BPL trustee) Byron Rushing to the BPL powers-that-be put the sidewalk's repair on the to-be-done list. And now it is done. Regrettably, the pavement inside the library's park is still a deteriorated mess, as is the sidewalk entrance to park on the Rutland Square side. More phone calls need to be made. Or better yet, the BPL's management  should be encouraged to come up with a rational plan to fix its facilities in a timely manner: after all, Boston taxpayers fund the BPL to the tune of about $40 million a year, plus additional tens of millions of dollars in capital expenditures. We could use more attention.

In the meantime, direct access to the South End library itself is now handicapped accessible, in the true sense of the word. Imagine what it would look like if ALL the pavement were fixed with new tiles in their lovely designated colors of blue-gray, pink and light mauve. (The library building and the park were designed in the late 1960s by the prominent architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola, originally from Philadelphia, but since established in New York City.)  How about you make a phone call to our city representatives? Our district councillors are Bill Linehan, Frank Baker and Tito Jackson; our at-large councillors are Michelle Wu (a South End resident), Michael Flaherty, Ayanna Pressley and Stephen Murphy. You can find their contact information right here. And if you'd like to call BPL president Amy Ryan to encourage her team to repair the rest of the sidewalk, her contact information is right here.