BATAVIA – As someone who is confined to a wheelchair, Batavia resident Steve Heronemus has encountered obstacles in trying to get around the city.
Heronemus has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive, degenerative disease of the nervous system. He has had the disease since 2003, his wife Suzanne said.
The couple addressed city officials at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting about the need to make the city more accessible to people with disabilities. Because the disease has taken his ability to speak, Steve Heronemus “spoke” to officials through a computer. The computer was controlled through his eye movement, since he no longer can use a mouse.
They spoke about the problems caused by not having continuous sidewalks throughout the city, or sidewalks that are not in good condition.
They also spoke about the importance of holding business and property owners accountable for making sure handicapped parking spaces don’t have snow plowed into them.
“We, of course, would like the country and the world to be more accessible to people with disabilities,” Suzanne Heronemus said after the presentation.
She said they are part of a team working to make the church they attend, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles, more accessible.
The Heronemuses live in the 2nd Ward in Batavia, and 2nd Ward Alderman Marty Callahan suggested they discuss their concerns with aldermen.
“Steve is my neighbor and my friend,” Callahan said after the presentation. “I am inspired by him.”
Steve Heronemus said he was thankful for the opportunity.
“People living with disabilities can often feel isolated and excluded from the richness of public life,” he wrote in an email after the presentation. “Batavia has much to offer our citizens, whether in festivals like Art In Your Eye and BatFest or everyday shopping, dining, theater, or enjoying the Riverwalk. I simply want to work to eliminate physical barriers so participation in our community’s life is open to all.”