A local advocacy group has filed a complaint with the state Attorney General under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming people with disabilities will lose ready access to library services when the city of Newton shuts down its branch libraries July 1.
"You have to take three buses to get to the main library, and it can take hours," said Maryan Amaral, author of the complaint and founder of Friends of Newton Corner Branch Library and Chaffin Park. "People depend on the branches, particularly in Newton Corner."
Amaral said the branch is across the street from an assisted living facility for people with disabilities, where book clubs with the branch librarian are conducted. She said the complaint asked for either the branches to be kept open or for the city to provide transportation for people with disabilities to the main library.
The complaint was filed Friday, according to Amaral.
The attorney general's office is "aware of the situation," said Amie Breton, a spokeswoman for the attorney general. Breton would not comment further.
The city's four remaining branch libraries were marked for closure after voters rejected a $12 million property tax override in May.
The closings were written into the city budget prepared by the amdinistration of Mayor David Cohen. During deliberations on the budget, aldermen approved a resolution to keep the branches open, but a last-minute maneuver by four aldermen on Tuesday placed the mayor's budget, complete with the branch closings, into effect.
"This is not a cut anyone wanted to make, but it is one of the ramifications a failed override has meant for our community," said city spokeman Jeremy Solomon. "We will wait to hear from the Attorney General's office and comply with their ruling."
The branches are open for limited hours during the month of June and are expected to close by the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1.
-- Rachana Rathi