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Disabled decry Empire Center

Molly Shore

Members of the Burbank Advisory Council on Disabilities have compiled

a list of obstacles they say challenge disabled people attempting to

shop or dine at the Burbank Empire Center.

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According to Janet Diel, chairwoman of the advisory council’s

Barrier Committee, the panel has noted several different obstructions

they say need to be corrected by the developer of the nearly

1.3-million-square-foot shopping center.

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“Beginning at the Great Indoors, the parking and walkway areas

onto the sidewalk leading to Best Buy present challenges for the

blind and for people in wheelchairs because trees and planters in

this area are impediments to safely crossing through the area,” Diel

said at the advisory council’s Sept. 25 meeting.

Another corrective action Diel said needs to be addressed includes

the widening of ramps and walkways to the parking areas from Lowe’s,

the home improvement store in the center.

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Diel, who has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 25 years

because of a degenerative spinal disease, also believes that a

shuttle is needed at the shopping center.

“We’re asking for a transporter that would go at least on weekends

and holiday times to get people around,” she said.

Ben Reiling, president of Zelman Development Company, who

developed the shopping center, admits that there are accessibility

issues, but said that his company cannot offer shuttle service.

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“We don’t have the ability to do that,” Reiling said. “We have no

way to get reimbursed for it.”

Some of the items noted by the advisory panel will be corrected,

Reiling said, adding that “some of them, frankly, we’re a little

surprised at.”

Reiling said that he has never seen double or triple wheelchair

ramps, another of the requested changes.

“We’re really not quite sure exactly what they’re driving at,”

Reiling said.

Deputy City Planner Roger Baker said that although the center is

complete, Reiling continues to fine-tune it.

“He will look at the suggestions,” Baker said. “I asked him to

just go over them and think about them.”

A meeting will be scheduled with the subcommittee toward the end

of the month to discuss the requests, Baker said.

“I think we’ve got a good situation here,” Baker said. “We’re

fortunate to have a developer committed to the project.”


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