On June 26, 2015, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge issued an injunction against the City of Boston, halting the City’s replacement and upgrade of existing handicapped accessible ramps in the Boston historic district of Beacon Hill. The Beacon Hill Civic Association, a group dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of Beacon Hill had filed suit and sought an injunction against the City arguing for the preservation of the existing ramps to maintain the historic nature of Beacon Hill. This case exemplifies the tension seen all over the world of the issue of disability accessibility of historic cultural property in competition with the preservation of this property. Looking to find an answer on the balance of disability accessibility rights and the need to preserve cultural property in the theories of property which have affected the property system in the United States, there is no clear answer and what is left is a contradictory web of partial answers that are complicated by the shortcomings within each of the theories of property itself. Therefore looking at this issue of disability accessibility versus cultural property preservation through the lens of Utilitarian property theory, cultural property, and Human Flourishing theory, in the case of the Beacon Hill handicap ramps, we see tension between and within the theories as well as interference with personal property rights. In the end, it seems that the issue of disability accessibility versus historic property will continue to be a problem going into the future.
Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts was designated a historic district by Massachusetts law in 1955, with the purpose to “promote the educational, cultural, economic and gener...
... middle of paper ...
..., and again denied the City’s largely unaltered application in December 2013. On July 14, 2014 the Commissioner of Boston’s Inspectorial Services Department informed the City’s Department of Public Works that the current handicapped ramps in Beacon Hill “create an unsafe and dangerous condition for individuals with disabilities,” thereby allowing the City to bypass the BHAC and the preservation laws for Beacon Hill. The City began construction on August 11, 2014, without regard to the BHAC intending to use the concrete and plastic warning tiles.
The Beacon Hill Civic Association filed a lawsuit against the City for violating the BHAC guidelines among other things and has successfully enjoined further construction while the lawsuit is litigated. As of right now, the parties are currently in discovery and no further changes have been made to the handicapped ramps.
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