Veteran Stadium Park Improvements Benefits Those with Disabilities

By at July 20, 2017 | 3:00 pm | Print

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Mayor Erin Stewart and Craig Bowman, of the parks and recreation department, led a group of about 20 in a tour of Veteran’s Stadium on Tuesday to show off the $774,000 worth of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) renovations at Willow Brook Park.

“This was fully funded by the City to improve ADA facilities in all of our parks,” said Stewart. “Last year we completed Beehive and this year Veteran’s Memorial. Next year we have a whole bunch more things lined up which we have to prioritize.”

Stewart said everyone should have equal access to City facilities.

“We finished it in the middle of June,” said Bowman. “We made quite a number of improvements. We do have new wheel chair ramps. Before, there was one wheel chair ramp on each side. At the far end of the bleachers it was not customer friendly. You had to walk underneath the bleachers to get to the ramp.”

The ramps are also wider as previously they were very tight.

The height of the concession stands were brought down from 42” to 3 feet.

“Before we had problems serving someone in a wheelchair,” said Bowman. “We also gutted out the concessions and made it stainless steel.”

The bathroom stalls were also replaced.

Stewart said we hold statewide conferences and events all the time and changes and upgrades are necessary to make New Britain’s fields and facilities among the best in the state. Nutmeg State Games are presently being held at the stadium.

In the locker rooms a carpet was replaced for a floor and exhaust fans were put in. The lockers themselves were also replaced. Last month the Connecticut High School All-Star game used the field and lockers.

The first row of seating on the bleachers were also removed and aluminum risers were raised so it is flush with the first level. The width is perfect and there is companion seating for those with disabilities.

Fencing across the front were changed so that people cannot sit on them and jump off to get to the field.

“We get a lot of big events because we are accessible. We are right off of Route 9,” Bowman added. “This is the geographic center of Connecticut.

Antonio Orriola and Brenda Socha of the City’s disability commission were among those on the tour. The two had been integral in making sure proper improvements for those with disabilities took place.

“It is awesome. There were many people who could not get up to the bleachers,” said Orriola. “It is what we needed.”

The following is the official list of upgrades and improvements made to the stadium as part of this project:

  • 4 new wheelchair ramps added at each corner of the stadium for bleacher access
  • 3 new aluminum step stairways added to each entrance/exit on both home and visiting side (6 in total)
  • New aluminum riser widened walkways across bleachers on both home and visiting side – includes new meshing fencing, handrails, more wheelchair parking areas, more handicapped seats, and additional companion seating
  • 4 newly-renovated concession stands including lower serving windows to accommodate persons with disabilities
  • 2 renovated locker rooms including, new antimicrobial laminate floors, spacious lockers, and handicapped accessible bathroom and shower facilities
  • Updated handicapped bathroom stalls in men’s and women’s bathrooms on visitors side

“New Britain prides itself on being a welcoming community to individuals of all backgrounds and abilities. We are grateful that these renovations have been completed in order to make Veteran’s Stadium a friendly arena for all the athletes and attendees who visit,” said Mayor Erin Stewart.

The architectural and engineering firm that designed the project was Kaestle Boos, Inc. out of New Britain. M&M Incorporated/Aresco Construction out of Middletown, CT was the general contractor who successfully completed the project. The facility is now fully accessible and up to code for both federal and state ADA standards.

Funding for the renovations came from Citywide Park ADA Improvement local bonding.

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