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Access Restored to Popular Boardwalk in New York City under ABA

December 19, 2019

When Super Storm Sandy hit New York City in 2012, it destroyed most of the iconic Rockaway Boardwalk in Queens. The following year, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation began work to restore the 5½ mile boardwalk using disaster relief assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. Shortly after the boardwalk reopened in May 2017, a complaint was filed with the Access Board under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) alleging that ramps at two locations along the boardwalk that had been destroyed were replaced with stairs.

In response, the Board opened an investigation under the ABA which requires access to facilities that received federal funding. The Board determined that the facility was subject to the law based on the federal funds used and that the restoration project did not comply with the applicable accessibility requirements which are known as the ABA Accessibility Standards. As a result, the Board directed the New York City Parks Department to undertake corrective action to install ramps in compliance with the standards. The city recently completed work to install metal ramps at two locations (Beach 24th and 25th Streets) to resolve the complaint. The city plans to construct permanent concrete ramps at both sites by October 2021.

The ABA, the first federal law to address accessibility, applies to facilities designed, built, or altered with federal money or leased by federal agencies. Visit the Board’s website for further information on the law and how to file a complaint.