These days I’m a stay-at-home mom and a volunteer down at The Wild Ramp. But in college, I majored in Architecture, and back in the old days, I used to have a high-powered, high-stress job as a corporate architect in the big city (Boston).
As an architect, I designed university buildings, courthouses, public libraries, and other public municipal buildings, and because of that experience, if you ask me if The Wild Ramp market is handicapped accessible, I’ll answer, “Well, technically… no”.
In order for a space to be considered compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and be officially handicapped accessible, there are very stringent requirements it must meet. Ramps and stairs must have handrails at certain heights. There must be landings every 12 feet. Ramps must slope no more than 1″ up or down in 12″ of length. Doors must be a certain width. There are pages and pages of requirements in the manual that each building must comply with, in order to technically be considered “handicapped accessible.”
But… my father is in a wheelchair, so I also know that we go a lot of places that aren’t officially considered handicapped accessible. Before about a month ago, getting Dad down to the market involved taking him down 5 steps to the top of the historic baggage ramp, which led down to the level where The Wild Ramp is located.
We’ve been told by various shoppers that this historic concrete baggage ramp has been dubbed “the wild ramp” by kids whose parents shop at the market, which I personally find charming. I know my two-year-old Zachary loves swinging on the handrail and running up and down the baggage ramp every time we go shopping at The Wild Ramp. It’s an integral part of every trip down to Heritage Station– just as vital as climbing on the locomotive and getting a cookie at River and Rail Bakery!
Recently, the Park Board (which manages Heritage Station, where The Wild Ramp is located) extended this historic ramp around by the bandstand, where there used to be those 5 awkward steps leading down to the top of the ramp. They took out the steps and added a new leg to the ramp, which means we now have a ramp which leads from the main level of Heritage Station all the way down to the level where we’re located.
Is this ramp technically “accessible”? No. The slope is 28 1/2 inches on the historic ramp, which would require more than 28 feet of ramp (not even including landings) and it goes down in less than 25 feet of length of ramp. The new ramp is even “less” compliant. It goes down about 37″ in 17 1/2 feet of length- whereas the ADA would require over 37′ of length of ramp (not including landings) to go that far to meet ADA requirements. So, no, this new ramp does not meet handicapped requirements.
But on a more practical level, does this new ramp make it a whole lot easier for my dad to come visit The Wild Ramp? YES! He’s thrilled, because now he can negotiate himself down to the market, without needing our help on the stairs. It makes us feel better about our location knowing that people in wheelchairs (or with strollers) can more easily make it down to visit us now. Also from a practical standpoint, this extension of the ramp makes it easier for our farmers to bring down all their yummy produce and meats and for us to receive heavy shipments from some of our vendors such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.
We understand all the reasons it was impractical to build an ADA compliant ramp in the historic confines of Heritage Station, but we’re still excited that we do have new and improved access to the market.
Especially Zachary, because for him, “the wild ramp” has become an even longer and more fun place to play and run.
The Wild Ramp is celebrating its One Year Birthday! You, the community, built this market and through your generous support made our first year very successful. Please help us celebrate the new things to come by continuing your support. We ask for our birthday that you consider looking at our birthday wish list, stopping by to make a contribution to our donation patch, or to sign up for volunteer hours to help the market’s continued success. Thanks! Let’s make this a birthday to remember!