Thursday, May 5, 2011

Staten Island mother outraged that condo won't let her install wheelchair lift for her disabled daughter

From the NY Daily News:

A Staten Island mom is outraged that her condo complex refuses to allow her to install a wheelchair lift in front of her home for her daughter with cerebral palsy.

Maria Stasinski (pictured) received the $5,000 lift from a charity in January so she would no longer have to carry 4-year-old Giuliana (pictured) up and down stairs in her wheelchair. But she hasn't been able to install it because the condo board at the Richmond Mews complex balked.

Stasinski, 37, said she struggles to carry the girl and her wheelchair - a combined weight of 200 pounds - up and down the front steps. She said Giuliana often misses school and therapy in the winter.

"I don't need to have my daughter locked in my home," she said. "A child in a wheelchair needs to get to therapy.

"In the summer months I'm struggling up and down the stairs, but the winter months are so, so bad with the snow and ice," she said. "I have every right to put the lift in."

Richard Gabor, a lawyer for the condo board, said the complex would let Stasinski install the lift in the rear of her home if their insurance company approves.

He said residents were concerned about safety issues, although he wouldn't be specific.

"The board approves the lift in a location that does not impede on the common areas enjoyed and paid for by community residents and where it presents no danger to community residents and their children," he said.

But Stasinski, who has had contractors ready since March to install the lift, said putting it in the rear is no good because the area isn't cleared when it snows - and is insulting to her daughter to enter through the back.

Paul Quattrocchi, a board member at the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, which donated the lift, said he was baffled by the board's refusal. "I just don't understand why they wouldn't let them put it in," he said. "We've never experienced that, and we put in many [wheelchair lifts]."

Stasinski, who moved into the complex almost three years ago with her husband and their only child, said they've been met with hostility by board members. She plans a protest at the 48-home complex today.

"I feel that it's discrimination," she said. "It's appalling."