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Galusha renews legal fight for disabled access to Adk. woodlands

Vows he'll go to jail to prompt state to live up to legal mandates

Armed with posters, visual aids, videos and documents, Ted Galusha of Warrensburg was headed for local town Court Wednesday morning Oct. 10 to continue his fight to open up access to Adirondack woodlands.  Ticketed this summer for driving a vehicle a matter of only yards into an camping area that he believes was illegally blocked off, he’s ready to go to jail to promote his cause. In 2001, Galusha won a federal lawsuit that was settled in an agreement that forced the state to open up over 100 miles of roads they closed and make $4.8 million in improvements to recreational areas to improve access for the disabled.

Armed with posters, visual aids, videos and documents, Ted Galusha of Warrensburg was headed for local town Court Wednesday morning Oct. 10 to continue his fight to open up access to Adirondack woodlands. Ticketed this summer for driving a vehicle a matter of only yards into an camping area that he believes was illegally blocked off, he’s ready to go to jail to promote his cause. In 2001, Galusha won a federal lawsuit that was settled in an agreement that forced the state to open up over 100 miles of roads they closed and make $4.8 million in improvements to recreational areas to improve access for the disabled. Photo by Thom Randall.

— A local man who’s fought the state for decades for disabled access to recreational forest areas — and 11 years ago won a landmark federal case over the issue — is now pledging to go to jail if the state doesn’t live up to that court decision.

Ted Galusha of Warrensburg, who was ticketed this summer for “Disobeying a Sign” in the Hudson River Recreation Area, is headed for a showdown Wednesday Oct. 10 in Warrensburg Town Court.

Tuesday, he said he was ready to detail how the state Department of Environmental Conservation hasn’t complied with a consent decree in the 2001 court case that required the state to open up over 100 miles of roads to motorized use by the disabled and make about $4.8 million in improvements to campground facilities, picnic areas, parking lots, restrooms, showers and boat launches to accommodate those with mobility issues.

The federal suit, fought by Galusha and volunteer attorney Alvin Sabo, had charged that the the state had violated the civil rights of Galusha and other area residents with mobility issues — rights guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

At the time of the court decision, lawyers, state officials, environmental groups, and advocacy groups for the disabled all hailed the ensuing settlement as landmark agreement that would have national implications in assuring adequate access to forest lands and recreational facilities by citizens with disabilities.

But although the settlement called for the state to accomplish that long list of improvements within 18 months, much of it wasn’t completed five years later.

And now, Galusha has seen his own favorite camping spot DEC-managed Buttermilk area of the HRRA in Lake Luzerne have the number of campsites reduced, and its amenities for the disabled removed or degraded — even trees planted by the state in parking areas and former campsites, plus boulders blocking campsite entrances and picnicking areas.

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cathym 1 year, 6 months ago

i had a dear uncle, who has since passed on, who was injured during the korean war and left paralyzed from the waist down and lived his life in a wheelchair. when he wanted to go duck hunting, he and his buddies got together and his hunting buddies brought bill biegner, in his wheelchair, through the woods to hunt. there were no law suits, there were no "woe be me i am paralyzed", they did what they had to do to go duck hunting. and, what disabilities would be NOT be allowed then to drive into these refuges? also, after the state having to lay out over 4 million $ for improvements already and in these very tough economic times, i can see how the state would have to cut back on money going into state owned camping sites, maybe it is a good time to think about privatization of some of the state's campgrounds and get the camping expense off the backs of the taxpayers. not all taxpayers use the states camping facilties, but we all have to pay for them and the lawsuits that are brought forth.

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