Recently, we took a look at the pedestrian friendliness, more specifically, the handicap accessibility of the downtown Castle Rock area. Though there are some existing facilities and improvements that have been made over the years, there are still significant changes that need to happen in order to create a downtown that is welcoming to everyone.
Focusing on the blocks between Perry and Wilcox Streets, enclosed by Second and Fifth Streets, we first walked the Town center to evaluate the parking situation. In that three-block-radius of central downtown, only five handicap parking spots were noted; one in the Dazbog lot, two on Third and two on Fourth street. Also, the central parking lot at 333 Perry Street (The Courtyard) had no visible handicap parking spots.
Shanan Holub the Adult Program Coordinator at Sky Cliff Center in Castle Rock said this limited handicap parking on the busy streets often keeps them from taking their adults with special needs downtown. “We don’t go to the downtown area very often because it’s hard with the traffic. “It would be nice to have something off the street,” commented Holub.
And though there are a few spaces if you cross to the East side of Perry and to the West side of Wilcox, attempting to get to the other side can be treacherous. Whether you are able bodied or need assistance, crossing those main Town thoroughfares is rather hazardous for anyone.
Holub knows from experience by taking her group of 20 plus on previous outings to the Town center. “Even when those few handicap spots are available, we worry about safety of residents unloading and loading back into our van. Crossing the busy street isn’t possible for us.”
All too often, cars do not see pedestrians waiting to get to the other side and fail to stop at marked downtown crosswalks. Instead, it’s like a scene from the classic video game ‘Frogger’ with people on the street dodging oncoming cars – cross at your own risk.
Contributing to the parking and street crossing challenges is that many of the structures in Town were built in the early 1900s before having to be ADA compliant. It wasn’t until 1973 with the passage of the Rehabilitation Act that persons with disabilities were given legal rights and not until July 26, 1990, that the American Disabilities Act was finally signed at the White House. Therefore, some of the early 19th century buildings in Castle Rock were not required by law to have modified facilities like handicap bathrooms.
A step in the right direction, the Town’s Development Services Department’s has applied for grants to improve Downtown alleys and accessibility. “We have plans to improve alleys and widen the sidewalks downtown. We are also aware of their uneven grading – but it takes time to do all that,” said Heather Lamboy, Assistant Director of Development Services for Castle Rock. “Eventually we want to create a downtown that is open and available to everybody.”
However, as the population of our jewel continues to grow at light speed, remodeling of the Town will be expected sooner than later by the incoming diverse population that will make up the ‘new’ Castle Rock.