TROY, N.Y. (WRGB) - A lawsuit against the Collar City for failure to clear and maintain sidewalks has been filed by those who depend on their wheelchairs to get around.
"Being in the road with two ton vehicles, being safer than the sidewalks?"
Attorney Benjamin Thapa says this idea is ludicrous - but true. He works with Disability Rights of New York and his two clients have filed a lawsuit against the city of Troy for the limited access they have getting down the street in their motorized wheelchairs.
"The ability to go out into the city of Troy, not just in the winter, but also in the summer,” Thapa said.
Snow and ice buildup on the sidewalks, not shoveled, but also divots in the sidewalks in the summer and pathways not maintained according to ADA standards. Tthat's what the lawsuit claims, saying two clients have become injured because of it and broke their wheelchairs, remaining homebound for months.
"I don't think the city has been as aggressive as I'd like to see to become more accessible," said Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello.
The mayor's staff declined to speak on camera on the issue because of pending litigation.
"A few years ago, the city council actually passed a resolution to think differently in our city, to make it more inclusive for the developmentally disabled," Mantello said.
But she says more needs to be done - including more enforcement of laws telling residents and businesses to shovel their sidewalks in the winter. In the summer, Mantello says some businesses may have pop-ups or tables and chairs out on the sidewalks, blocking a path.
"We're being more reactive and the city needs to be more proactive," Mantello said.
Mantello feels strongly about this.
"As the mom of a special needs and developmentally disabled son, I know firsthand," she said.
She shares the same sentiments as the two residents listed in this lawsuit, who aren't asked for monetary damages in the claim - just help.
"The solution to the plaintiffs problem is to provide them access, to fix the streets and sidewalks of Troy, in a timely fashion, that's all we're asking for," Thapa said.
Mayor Patrick Madden has also released a statement, saying "Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, no city administration has been more committed to improving accessibility for Troy residents of all ages and abilities. We have made meaningful progress with the assistance of local disability advocates and organizations and remain fully committed to this important effort."