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Group meets to discuss town’s accessibility

By Staff | Mar 22, 2012

Community members came together Tuesday evening to find ways to make Shepherdstown’s street fronts more assessable for those with disabilities.

Judith Treesberg and Elise Baach, two Shepherdstown residents who have spearheaded the “Visitable Shepherdstown” initative, gave a presentation on the potential sites around town that could be adjusted to be more accessible for residents who are wheel-chair bound.

Treesberg and Baach, who both have children with disabilities, asked the group to consider ways to make a “Visitable Shepherdstown” a reality.

“My idea is to just start and to pick one place at a place.” Treesberg said.

Treesberg spoke about her experience living in Berkeley, Calif., where disability rights flourished and portable wheelchair ramps are used prevalently.

Taking cues from that experience Treesberg hopes to encourage the Shepherdstown community to incrementally adopt similar practices even as the historic streets of Shepherdstown offers unique challenges.

“I think there are a lot of places that it can be done,” she said.

Meredith Wait, president of the Shepherdstown Business Association suggested partnering with the business community and residents early in order to find volunteers committed to moving the project ahead quickly.

Lizz King, manager of the Blue Moon, suggested gaining business support by highlighting the advantages.

“It’s a valuable customer base that can increase your business,” she said.

The portable ramps Treesberg is advocating local businesses adopt cost approximately $150.

Along with ramps, Treesberg also hopes the town will consider buying a set of wheelchairs for public use.

She said the Visitable Shepherdstown initiative would also serve to make information more readily available for disabled people

“I think its really important to let people know that Shepherdstown cares,” she said.

Mayor Jim Auxer who passed up the Planning Commission to attend Tuesday night said he thinks “Visitable Shepherdstown’s” purpose will be readily embraced by the town.

“I think the ramps are a great idea, ” he said.

“I think the town will get on board with that. I really do,” he said.

Auxer spoke to the town’s inclusive nature.

“Everybody is pretty caring,” he said.

Treesberg also hopes the “Visitable Shepherdstown” will help raise visibility and awareness among members of the community who may not commonly consider the needs of those living with disabilities.

“Everybody is important,” she said.

For more information on “Visitable Shepherdstown” contact Treesberg at LTWhome@aol.com or Baach at ETBAACH@gmail.com.