ADA upgrades complete at Oak Terrace

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Darrin Lewin, 48, talks Tuesday afternoon about the differences between his current apartment in the Oak Terrace public housing complex in Naugatuck and one of the new apartments, which were renovated to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. –LUKE MARSHALL
Darrin Lewin, 48, talks Tuesday afternoon about the differences between his current apartment in the Oak Terrace public housing complex in Naugatuck and one of the new apartments, which were renovated to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Living at Oak Terrace apartment complex has become more accessible for some residents.

Oak Terrace, a public housing complex located off Conrad Street, recently finished work on bringing 10 units into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Naugatuck Housing Authority Executive Director Christine Warren said four of the units were upgraded and six of the units were completely renovated to make them handicapped-accessible.

The work was done with a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, which the borough received in September 2012. By state law Oak Terrace, which has 173 units, must have 5 percent of its units ADA compliant. The upgrade brings them into compliance with the law and allows the authority to receive additional state or federal grant money.

 “There was a need for additional handicapped units both to meet ADA requirements and to enable us to house the handicapped applicants on our waiting list,” Warren said.

Warren said everybody who had been on the waiting list for ADA housing will be accommodated thanks to the work that has been done. The complex will begin leasing the new apartments next month, she said.

Darrin Lewin, 48, who uses a power wheelchair, has been on the waiting list for about a year and a half. He currently lives in a regular apartment in Oak Terrace and said he has trouble with everyday tasks such as reaching across the burner when cooking, getting in and out of the shower and reaching the sink to wash dishes.

“I wasn’t crying about it, but it was an inconvenience,” Lewin said.

Lewin is scheduled to move into his new wheelchair accessible apartment on Nov. 1.

Warren said the new ADA compliant units were redesigned with people like Lewin in mind.

“These renovations include handicapped-accessible cabinets, countertops, appliances and sinks. Entryways and doorways are widened to accommodate wheelchair access. The bathrooms are equipped with bars around the toilet and the sink, and there is a wheelchair accessible shower with a bench in it,” Warren said.

Larry Wagner, president of L. Wagner & Associates, helped facilitate the grant. She said the work was done much faster than expected.

Although the borough found out that it had secured the grant more than a year ago it did not receive the money until early January, Wagner said. Once it had the money in hand, the work was completed in approximately 10 months.

The Hartford-based BRD Builders performed the renovations, and Quisenberry Arcari Architects, based in Farmington, designed the new apartments.

Warren said in addition to the work on the units the housing authority also paid $58,000 toward architectural design plans and testing for the project, and $55,880 to build a parking lot near the complex’s community building to alleviate parking issues and provide additional parking for elections. The community room is used as a polling place during elections. These costs were separate from the grant funds.