Getting around difficult on narrow Merritt Island condo sidewalks

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MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. —

Residents of a Merritt Island condominium said they're feeling trapped in their own homes because disabled residents can't get down the narrow sidewalks.

The management at Harbor Woods said they have no plans to widen the sidewalks, and they're doing everything they're required to by law.

June Barton, 87, can barely get to her mailbox with her walker. Instead, she's left to use her cane, because the sidewalks are too narrow for the walker.

"Can't get by this one at all," Barton said.

Barton said she's afraid she will fall.

The same goes for her neighbor, Carol Donohue, who uses a wheelchair.

"To make the turn, I couldn't do it, I would have to hold on like this and just pray that I didn't go over," Donohue said.

Much of the sidewalk at Harbor Woods Condos is 23 inches, a full 13 inches short of being ADA compliant, and much shorter than any average public sidewalk.

The two women have laid their own stepping stones down just to get out of their units.

"There's only dirt under them and they're wobbly now," Barton said.

Barton was sent a letter by management to remove her stepping stones.

"They told June to remove hers, so I imagine I'm next," Donohue said.

"Just widen it so it's accessible for me, I can feel safe," Barton said.

Advanced Property Management, which manages Harbor Woods, said they don't have to by law because the building is over 30 years old, and they are only required to allow residents to make their own accommodations.

"It's terribly frustrating," Donohue said --especially after residents said the association just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for upgrades that didn't include the sidewalk.

For now, the women have to take their chances.

"I get scared, but it's something that I have to deal with," Barton said.

The vice president of the condo association said it didn't widen the sidewalk when remodeling because of the cost, because it's right next to the water shut off valves.

After WFTV's Renee Stoll talked to him, he said he now plans to get another estimate and management may even donate labor.

Both women are now allowed to keep their stepping stones, and even move their parking spots to make it easier.