Depending on whom one speaks with, most residents in Mooers do not want a new library.
There are questions over costs, demands that the library remain in the same building, anger over the location of the new library and concerns that the money saved should be spent elsewhere.
The one glaring certainty though is that the current library is not adequate for those who are disabled. It was deemed inadequate and Mooers officials were told that the library needed to be handicap accessible.
Ultimately, that’s the only thing that really matters here, and it inspired town officials to act. So they decided to construct a new library behind the Town Offices, down the road from the current, small building.
It appears they made the right decision.
I understand that times are tough, for sure. Critics see the library in the current building and think it’s working fine. Just install a handicap ramp and all will be well.
Why not spend that money on roads, or somewhere else, or use any extra funds the town gets to lower taxes.
But a ramp is not all that is needed. The library needs a lift, a new bathroom and more, and from what library officials and residents supporting the project say, the current building is inadequate and will not meet the requirements to make it fully handicap accessible.
Again, some residents might say times are tough.
I say ask a disabled individual what it is like getting around every day, really see that person and his or her frustration and pain and then say “Times are tough.”
I was at a meeting in Plattsburgh held at a local building a spiritual group uses and a wheelchair-bound woman had a terrible time making it in and maneuvering herself to the location of the gathering.
If the meeting had been held in the basement, she would not have been able to attend.
The woman expressed her frustration during a period for questions and comments, and while those present listened, some were clearly frustrated because the meeting was going off topic. But imagine for a few seconds you are this woman and life is already difficulty because of your disability and is more difficult each day you leave your house.
The difficulties don’t stem from your poor attitude, because you are positive, despite your hardship, but they stem from the fact that each and every time you go out into the world and want to be a part of society, you have to struggle or are unable to participate because of the lack of handicap accessibility.
Yes, it has improved tremendously over the years, but as long as there are even a few places that are restrictive to those with disabilities, then improvements must continue to be made.
A disabled person should not be prevented from participating in society because the venue only caters to the able-bodied.
Likewise, while times are tough, and money is tight, it seems to me to be much easier for the able bodied to point that out, especially when they are able to come and go as they please. They don’t get dressed up for a show or an event they are excited about and then have to turn around because they cannot even enter the building, or turn around because they can enter the building but then cannot navigate inside. Can you imagine? Everyone else is getting ready to enjoy their evening and you are stuck in the corner, unable to move because of restrictions related to your disability.
But a disability should not restrict anyone if society has the ability to eliminate those restrictions.
It is difficult to tell, depending on whom one speaks with, whether the Mooers library move is the right choice.
But if it truly comes down to constructing a new building that the disabled can fully enjoy too, then there is only one choice.
Don’t be that able-bodied individual who walks around unrestricted and complains about money being spent to provide the disabled with the same opportunities you have. Maybe I'm only saying this because I have a son with a disability, but I'd give up a whole lot to ensure someone with a disability had the same access to society I have.
Stephen Bartlett may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org