Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Farmer John Feare

(Photo-edited to remove distracting reflections and background elements.
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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Vocal Citizens Express Frustration At CCPT Meeting

Patti King (second from left) shares her views on the proposed changes to CCPT rural paratransit.

© 2015 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – Sept. 29, 2015

Noontime.  Clinton County Government Center conference room.

Around twenty people listen as County Planning Technician James Bosley gives a brief recap of last week’s meeting.  Then he opens the floor to the public.

Deer-in-the-headlights silence.

Well, this should be a short meeting.  200 words will cover it.

The meeting last week was set up for community agency representatives to give their input regarding CCPT (Clinton County Public Transit) and its rural paratransit options.  

Problems have fallen hard on the bus system. Funding shortfall.  Aging buses breaking down, leaving half of the fleet out of service.  The long process to get more money for new buses.  Changes have to be made to the rural paratransit service.

Today it was the public’s turn for input.

Dreary day.  Rainy. Overcast.  Not sunny like last time.  Weather induced sluggishness?

CCPT operates four separate services: city fixed route, city paratransit, rural fixed routes, and rural paratransit.  The rural paratransit service helps members of the disabled community who live outside the greater Plattsburgh City area.  It provides door to door transportation.

But with all of the problems piling on CCPT overall service has to be reduced.  James has explained city paratransit would remain the same while the rural service would be cut back.  There are options.  Decisions have to be made.
Public input is needed.

It’s quiet in here.  Did I hear a cricket?

Debra Buell

Advocate Debra Buell waits for someone to kick off the comments.  Then she decides to voice her opinion.

Others join in.  Most participants calmly ask a question or share a comment.  Along the way some comments become more pointed.  A couple of voices are strident, driving thoughts across to James.

James remains reposeful.

Activist Mary-Alice Shemo appears to be the kindly grandmother type. But don’t get her going.

She’s perturbed when she hears the county hadn’t done a survey to ascertain the needs of paratransit riders.

“You would think,” she says, “that a survey would have been done by now.  Duh.”

James mentions kidney dialysis patients would be prioritized under the new service.

Debra Buell says one group couldn’t be favored under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations.  That’s disparate impact discrimination.

Debra knows dialysis treatments are life-sustaining.  But rural paratransit, she says, should also help those needing a ride for work or shopping.  If renal patients are given priority over others, CCPT would be out of ADA compliance.  Again.

Also regarding dialysis patients Debra asks why couldn’t the renal treatment center at CVPH be flexible?  It could schedule appointments to coincide with the rural paratransit schedule.  Why not speak to them about this?

Mary-Alice observes the renal center is a for-profit corporation using a public service, CCPT.

Gotta maximize those corporate profits.  

After a while the same points are batted back and forth.  Debra and Mary-Alice repeat comments, trying to get James to understand.  “I’m not saying that, I mean this.”

Clinton County Legislator Harry McManus

In attendance is Harry McManus, Chair of the Clinton County Legislature Transportation Committee.  The county legislature will decide what changes will be made based partly upon input from this meeting.

He diplomatically interrupts the discussion repeat cycle, saying the same comments have been made, it’s time to move on.

The meeting runs over its hour schedule but finally ends.  A lot was discussed. I glance at my pages of notes.  All of this has to fit into a brief article.

So much for the short meeting, short article…