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UBS Arena, Islanders boost parking for fans with disabilities

Charles Razenson, an Islanders season ticket holder, said

Charles Razenson, an Islanders season ticket holder, said a new plan to include more parking for fans with disabilities is a start but more accessible lots are needed. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Islander games will include 86 parking spaces for visitors with disabilities, team and UBS Arena officials said. The parking plan comes after a season ticket holder appealed to the state in response to a proposal that had the nearest accessible lot nearly a mile away.

The new plan, in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, will include 50 parking spaces in the diamond and silver lots closest to the arena. The emerald lot on the opposite side of the Belmont Park racetrack has another 36 accessible spots with shuttle service to the arena.

The closest parking and VIP drop-off area in the diamond lot now includes 28 parking spaces for fans with disabilities. Another 22 accessible spaces are in the silver lot. Fans with disabilities who were previously designated to park in the south lot on the other side of Hempstead Turnpike, behind the arena's parking garage, will now be directed to the closer lots, according to the plan. Staff members will be available to assist fans and arrange for shuttles, officials said.

Last week, Charles Razenson, 68, of Hicksville, said he was told during an arena tour with other season ticket holders that the diamond lots — located in front of the arena — were reserved for suite ticket holders. Razenson, who said both he and his wife have disabilities stemming from a car wreck, would have had to park in the emerald lot, nearly a mile away from the arena.

Razenson filed a complaint last week with the New York State Division of Human Rights and Nassau County Consumer Affairs to challenge the plan.

On Tuesday, he said the accessible parking at the arena for fans with disabilities was still insufficient, but he considered the new spaces set aside in the diamond and silver lots "a win."

Razenson said he is buying his $1,200 annual parking pass — at $30 a game — to park in the diamond lot and enter off Hempstead Turnpike.

"It can be fixed. I’d like to have more parking spaces. I think people deserve it and at least this is a good start," Razenson said. "They have to do the right thing by people. They can only build upon a successful start. We know it’s a new arena to get their feet wet and hopefully they will make improvements as needs go on."

Jennifer Perry, an access specialist with the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University, said arenas are allowed to have different tiers, or VIP parking, as long as they provide accessible parking for visitors with disabilities in each lot.

"There’s nothing in the ADA that says you can’t have unique parking areas," Perry said. "If you have VIP and general admission parking, nothing says you can’t do that with equal access in both of those lots."

Arena officials should have planned for the closest accessible parking, said Joseph Delgado, the CEO of the Suffolk Independent Living Organization.

"I do not feel a person with disabilities' economic standing should be part of the equation, as most people with disabilities fall on the lower end of the economic scale," Delgado said.

Therese Brzezinski, director of planning for the Long Island Center for Independent Living, said the test of equal accessibility will be when the arena opens.

"Customers with disabilities will begin to utilize the space and attempt to access things like parking shuttles and the story will unfold," Brzezinski said. "If care was taken to engage subject matter experts on disability who are people with disabilities from the outset as part of the planning and design process, that effort will definitely pay off. If not, it will be ‘back to the drawing board.' "

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