But has the township complied with
components of the settlement?
By SCOTT SHANLEY
It took three years for David to defeat Goliath in Middletown.
But in this case, however, "David" is Leonardo
resident Carolyn Schwebel and
Schwebel said she had been lobbying for the township to upgrade some of its facilities to include features that were more accessible to the disabled. Both her and Stoney are members of "The Equalizers," a local advocacy group that has been taking similar measures throughout the Bayshore. The group has won additional cases against Red Bank and Keansburg through complaints filed with the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
Although an initial settlement was reached in February of 2006, Schwebel said it was "essentially ignored."
"We had been struggling ever since then," she said. "They were supposed to look around the town and see what's wrong, write up a plan and fix everything. That should have been done by January of 1995. It's very frustrating."
Schwebel said a new settlement reached in July enforces
the previous settlement. According to a press release issued by "The
Equalizers" on August 14, the township was required to appoint an
Further, progress reports were required to be made to the plaintiff's every 60 days. Failure to comply with the terms of the settlement results in a $10,000 fine each time the township does not meet the stipulated deadlines.
"I am pleased that there will be increased
accessibility for all in
Township Administrator Robert Czech said the town has indeed complied with all of the stipulations that were implemented as a result of the settlement. However, Middletown's Web site, www.middletownnj.org, suggests something different.
A notice posted on the site on August 15 simply states that
the township has designated its EEO officer to serve as its
"They should've posted the actual settlement on the Web site as well," she said. "Hopefully, they will follow through with this now. I like the idea of a financial penalty in the settlement because it lets the public know that these shortcomings are costing the township."
Schwebel did not specify if she would take further legal action against the township if the entire settlement is not posted in the near future.
In a prepared statement issued via e-mail through Public
Information Officer Cindy Herrschaft, Czech stated that the township follows all
"The township does take steps to assist disabled residents as evidenced by the fact that accessibilities to facilities required to be used by the public are in compliance," he said. "The township did not ignore issues raised in the lawsuit as evidenced by the remedial work that was done and completed both at the library and other township facilities."
The administrator added that
Schwebel said "The Equalizers" are a small, yet effective group that has been tackling numerous accessibility problems throughout the area.
For more information on "The Equalizers" visit www.equalizers.org.
[Edits by webmaster noted in red]