Construction project blamed for inaccessibility to arts program

Rikki Demell says getting around in a wheelchair isn't always easy.

Lately, a construction project by Brady Sullivan Properties in Pawtucket has made getting around even more difficult for Demell and more than 150 of his disabled friends.

"They have to move the wheelchairs out of the mud," he said.

Clients in 100-pound electric wheelchairs have to navigate through mud and gravel to get to their art-based day program, Resources for Human Development. The project also blocks a handicap ramp on one side of the building.

Clients say it isn't just difficult to navigate, it's dangerous. So far, four people have been hurt.

"Two consumers injured and two staff out on workers' (compensation). They were injured trying to enter the building," said Mark Wilson, manager of the city's Resources for Human Development program.

Wilson said the construction is also kicking them out of the building they've been in for nine years. They didn't want to leave but the owners won't renew their contract. They want businesses out so luxury condos can go in.

"I'm very angry about this," said Rebecca Dimant, who also works for the program.

She said she's been watching the walls crumble around her at work and picking ceiling tile off of people's clothing.

"Staff and clients alike are falling down the mud. Our ceilings are caving in," Dimant said.

"No water for extended periods of time. No electricity. The fire alarms go off quite frequently," Wilson said.

Several calls to Brady Sullivan Properties were not returned.

The program has until Jan. 15 to find a new place.