Saturday, October 9, 2004

Family battles Bellevue for a handicapped spot

By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

Martha Werbrich, 66, makes her way across a concrete pad to the sidewalk in front of her home in Bellevue after being dropped off by Greg Feldman, a client supervisor at Redwood Rehabilitation Center.
Helen Werbrich spends four days a week assisting the disabled at the Redwood School and Rehabilitation Center, which she helped found. Now, she'd like help from Bellevue for a handicapped parking space at her house.

Werbrich has lived at the same home in the 1000 block of Taylor Avenue for 62 years. She has had a handicapped space out front for about a decade because her 66-year-old daughter, Martha Werbrich, has had cerebral palsy since birth, and her limbs get stiffer each year.

The city, which recently toughened its parking standards, denied her application in June.

Properties with off-street parking cannot also have handicapped spaces.

But Helen Werbrich's son, Tom, says his mother has no off-street parking: She only has an old-fashioned driveway that is too narrow for today's cars. It swoops steeply to the basement garage and hasn't been used in 30 years, he said.

Tom Werbich, of Monfort Heights, helped his mother appeal in July to the city's Disabled Parking Appeals Board.

The city last month painted a handicap parking in a new spot - directly in front of the driveway - but that doesn't help, the son said: The driveway's slight slope between the sidewalk and street is too steep for his mother, whose stiff legs force her to drag the balls of her feet when she uses a walker.

Five days a week, a special bus picks up Martha Werbich in the morning, bound for a handicapped workshop at Redwood School in Fort Mitchell. Each afternoon she is dropped off by a car, which lets her off at the 3-inch-high curb near a concrete parking pad the family constructed.

The family poured the pad with city permission between the curb and sidewalk a decade ago to help Martha Werbich reach the old parking space.

"I think it's rotten," said Helen Werbrich, who wants the space returned to its original spot. "I don't think they understand why we're concerned."

It used to be relatively easy to get parking permits, said Mayor Jack Meyer: "Basically all you had to do was have a handicap placard, and you had a spot. So, there was no regulation on anything."

That changed when people complained at a council meeting about the parking situation in one neighborhood. The city has eliminated many of the nearly 150 handicapped spots it had.

Meyer said the city is being consistent.

Meyer agrees parking is not tight in the 1000 block of Taylor. Werbrich plans to take signatures of support from the five neighbors on the street who surround his mother's house to Wednesday's 7 p.m. council meeting.

"I don't know that anything will change," Meyer said about the family's plea. "Because the whole point of a handicap parking spot is just to give you a spot to park, and they have that. It just doesn't work out the way they want it to because of getting picked up with a handicap bus every day."


County will wall off Powers' courtroom
Drug case proceeds; judge had testified
West Nile became man's Twilight Zone
Four arrested in teen's death

Bush, Kerry clash in heated rematch
In their own words
Clooney called '60s liberal
Senate races rake in bucks
Greenhills voters can beef up home fund
Partner benefits could be curtailed
Wording of Ohio's gay-marriage ban called sweeping
Same goals but different paths
Election board vote tied on registration residency

Withrow remembered
Cincinnati's 'brownouts' coming to an end Sunday
U.S. citizenship grows by 70
Drake Center flier called 'outrageous'
Findlay Market to be open Sundays in '05
Frailey may get 3.9% raise
Schools cope with crowds
Local news briefs
3 more Mason students charged in stolen gun
Bond $600K in Miami rape case
Neighborhood briefs
State sues over fitness funds
Big weekend may boost science museum
Public safety briefs
Eighth-graders in Madeira gather items for troops

CSO program luminous
Ballet opens exuberantly

Good Things Happening
It's Saturday evening, time to go to church

Bernard Roeckers, XU athlete

Police seek assailant in store robbery
Trial date reset in abuse suit against diocese
Track upgrade ahead of plan
Family battles Bellevue for a handicapped spot
Lawmakers examine two health options
Keeneland dares to mix history, hi tech
N. Ky. news briefs
Federal legislation would aid speedway
Covington man died before fire at his apartment