Disabled access activist Ted Galusha of Warrensburg, right is interviewed by Mark Mulholland of WNYT NewsChannel 13 at a trial held in October 2012 in which Galusha was accused of driving too near a campsite in the Hudson River Recreation Area. For years, Galusha has been battling with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to open up forest areas for motorized access by people with physical disabilities. Twelve years ago, Galusha won a landmark federal case over the issue. resulting in a court order that required the state to open up over 100 miles of roads to motorized use by the disabled and make about $4.8 million in improvements to campground facilities, picnic areas, parking lots, restrooms, showers and boat launches to accommodate those with mobility issues.
A resident of the Adirondacks who’s for decades fought the state to gain disabled access to recreational forest areas is now headed back to court to defend himself for driving past a state DEC warning sign towards a campsite for people with physical challenges.
Ted Galusha of Warrensburg, who 12 years ago won a landmark federal case over the issue, pledged this week — as he contests his latest violation — to continue his fight to make the state live up to the 2001 court decision.
Galusha was ticketed in June for “Disobeying a Sign” in the Hudson River Recreation Area — as he was in a similar incident last summer — and he's headed for a showdown with DEC Wednesday Sept. 11 in Lake Luzerne Town Court.
Tuesday, he said he was ready to detail how the state Department of Environmental Conservation hasn’t complied with a consent decree in the 2001 court case that required the state to open up over 100 miles of roads to motorized use by the disabled and make about $4.8 million in improvements to campground facilities, picnic areas, parking lots, restrooms, showers and boat launches to accommodate those with mobility issues.
The federal suit, fought by Galusha and volunteer attorney Alvin Sabo, had charged that the the state had violated the civil rights of Galusha and other area residents with mobility issues — rights guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
At the time of the court decision, lawyers, state officials, environmental groups, and advocacy groups for the disabled all hailed the ensuing settlement as landmark agreement that would have national implications in assuring adequate access to forest lands and recreational facilities by citizens with disabilities.
But although the settlement called for the state to accomplish that long list of improvements within 18 months, much of it wasn’t completed five years later.
(Check back at this website, www.adirondackjournal.com, for updates on the court session.)