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Nashua’s hackerspace MakeIt Labs opened last July but found its doors closed months later when city inspectors shut it down for code and permit violations like wiring issues, the failure to provide a handicapped-accessible toilet, and so on. Board member Adam Shrey described the situation in a blog post:

[T]he city of Nashua paid us a visit and is forcing us to stop operations until we have worked out several occupancy related issues. We’re working with the city and hope to resolve things soon and reopen. The city has said they like the idea of what we do. They’re just doing their job and we’re anxious to bring our facility up to a level of their satisfaction.

Several dedicated members have already pitched in to help and we’re making good progress. As things arise that we need help with we’ll let you know. In the meantime, we won’t be charging anyone dues since they can’t use the space.

It sounds like MakeIt Labs has a plan for addressing all of the city’s concerns, but money is a concern due to the lack of dues. If you want to help them in their time of trouble, you can donate via PayPal (link at the bottom of the post). Also, they are Space Federation members and you can make tax-deductible donations to the hackerspace through the federation, but at the time of this posting I don’t have a link to do so. I’ll update when I do!

Finally, kudos to reporter Dave Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph for extensively covering MakeIt Labs and sharing the maker/hackerspace scene with his readers, and for cluing us in about what’s going over there.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. Uh, the proprietors need to understand how such things work in that part of the country.

  2. Ed Dodt says:

    the excuse for unwanted and unneeded requirements is always justified by “we’re just doing our jobs”….

    1. Rob says:

      Is unsafe wiring an unneeded requirement or is it OK if someone gets hurt or a multi-tenant building gets burnt down?

      1. Put up a warning sign… sign a waiver … enter at your own risk….. I am more worried about being killed by government agents/soldiers than dying in a fire. 99guspuppet

  3. Dan Plows says:

    what’s up with that chick’s head?? (in front of red shirt guy)

    1. Anonymous says:

      Panoramic stitch will sometimes “lose information” i.e. “chick’s head” :)

      1. That’s what they WANT you to believe…

    2. Bo Sommers says:

      She is just dematerializing. The lab is developing the MakeIt GoAway teleportation machine which is like the transporter in the original Star Trek series. A transporter accident occurred that caused a power outage. That is what led a codes enforcement officer to their location. Note: The transporter was later reenergized and that girl safely rematerialized (they just don’t have that picture posted).

      1. erik scott says:

        Seriously, this is why you don’t sit next to a redshirt.  Haven’t you learned anything?

  4. Rahere says:

    This could be the thin end of a wedge: once the disabled have access to everything, are your machines safe for them? A case must surely be made that safety may mean that those suffering from some forms of disability should not have access. I shudder to think what damage a blind person could do to themselves in our local hackspace, there’s barely a piece of equipment that would be safe, including a fridge full of biological reactents. And here I talk as a disability campaigner: the disabled are realistic in the hardest school known to man, and appreciate far better than these bureaucrats that they would do better being able to ask someone to do it for them.
    The second point is that the authority views the hackerspace as a public utility. In Europe, they’re mostly private Associations, and can tell such bumptious fools what to do with themselves. You want the place fitted out, chum? Right, here’s the bill. Local authorities cannot impose such demands without compensation under the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Perhaps the answer is for the hackerspace to ask the authority to provide suitable accomodation itself at an equivalent cost, and to pay for the move!

    1. Are you actually aware of the American with Disabilities Act, or are you just talking out of your ass?  There are basic fundamental access issues that every facility must meet, simple things like the fact that folks in a wheelchair must be able to get into and out of the facility, and the bathroom (if publicly accessible) must be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.  Or are you of the view that those who cannot walk and stand have no place in a hackerspace? 

      1. Rahere says:

        Until very recently I was lead representative for disabilities in the local administration planning function in a Brussels council area, working closely with the management of the principal school for the mentally handicapped in the region, so I can see both sides of the problem, and prior to that I was the accountant for the Greenwich Association for the Disabled, the stroppiest group in the UK: our chair was renowned for chaining hers to buses until the regional transport authority made proper provision for the less able. Although I am not handicaped, I have three family members who are.
        The best outcome is a win-win, when everyone comes out ahead. The worst is when everyone loses by such uncaring application of law to the detriment of the entire operation, and we have also seen instances where Health andf Safety became so overweaning the entire operation became disfunctional as a result: that can be as bad as not having any adequate provision at all.
        The ADA 1990, as amended in 2008, provides for a long and specific list of facilities covered (Section 12181 Para 7), which does not include workshops. Furthermore, Section 12187 specifically excludes private clubs, such as the Hackerspace probably is, and Section 12182 on the definition of discrimination also includes a “Readily achievable” exclusion on exactly the lines I was talking about, and also provides for the health and Safety exclusion I was discussing. However, Section 12206 (d) provides for grants for such work, and as it is a matter of social responsibility, the Hackerspace is to be congratulated for trying: it should examine that Act in detail for who they should ask for help, probably starting at the National Council on Disability.

        1. Daniel says:

          you’re lying.
          everything you said is a bunch of misinformed BS. and had you ever held the positions that you claim then you’d know that.

          yes, private clubs do need to be disabled accessible, -not all hacker spaces are workshops, some are just a bunch of desks where minds can meet, last I heard the hacker space for Oxford UK didn’t allow the use of soldering irons. I see no heavy machinery in the hackerspace panorama above, nothing that would lead any reasonable person to call this a workshop/machine shop or any other exempt category.

          Second, in the UK, (which is inside Europe,) your buildings could be condemned due to safety hazards regarding wiring, and you could be shut down, you would have to pay for the re-wiring (not the government), and you’d also have to notify any notifiable work.

          I don’t see how you can consider being made to fix things that are unsafe/failed to come up to code as anything but win-win.

          if the money is there to fix the place then it’s a win,
          if the money is not there then alternative premises that are safe must be found. -again, win…

          just letting people work in unsafe environments isn’t a winning situation in my book.

          1. Gareth Branwyn says:

            Folks, please refrain from cursing and calling people here names or your comments will be removed. Thanks.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I’m a member of my city’s commission on disabilities.  In Massachusetts (next door to NH), this is a chartered advisory board.  We’re very familiar with disability issues, at least in my locality, but I wonder if the laws are slightly different in NH.

      In Massachusetts, the specific disability access codes vary depending on the age of the building, or the space, and when the space was most recently renovated.  MA law considers a major renovation to be one whose costs are equal to one-third or more of the value of the space.  Then it has to be brought up to current codes.

      If not, then the regulations that were in effect when the space was last renovated apply.  In other words, the property is grandfathered in.

      There are a number of properties and rented spaces in my town that have numerous barriers to access;  when the spaces were leased out, the costs of renovations were below the 30% threshold.

      I find it hard to believe that a hackerspace, tight on cash, would by itself put in enough money into the physical space to exceed the 30% access requirements.  And in NH?

      The other code violations may be (and should be) non-negotiable, but the ADA and many states’ laws allow for considerable room, if not total leeway, at least some compromises are possible.

      In Massachusetts, we have the Architectural Access Board which is the authority on what is required of accessible archtecture, design and construction.  They work closely with contractors, developers and other interested parties.  They’ll often issue waivers, if there is some access rule that is infeasible.

      Note that the law says “reasonable accommodations”.  It does not say “absolute accommodations”.  It would not say, by fiat, that a blind person must be able to use a lathe.  It does say, though, that a disabled person who wants to patronize the space (say, a chair user at a soldering workshop) should not have any barriers keeping him or her from having the same rights, access and privileges as a member without a disability.

      (I would not underestimate, though, the ability of a blind user to use a lathe with a spotter, since feel and its feedback are so important, and a sense that most blind still have.  Another topic.)

      By now, it has been 20 years since the ADA was signed into law, and there were state regulations before that, including those on accessible bathrooms.  Bathroom design is not esoteric;  anyone with the eye for details, design and plumbing will not find accessibility especially difficult.

      (Yes, I’m aware this hackerspace, like most, is “used” and not new;  Renovation is always harder than new construction and the ADA changes that not one bit.)

      Again, it’s been the law for 20 years and in my state we are managing to live and even thrive with it, without worrying about hypothetical slippery slope arguments about “those disabled people”.

      Most people without disabilities would probably find an accessible bathroom to be much nicer to use.  As they would a no-steps entrance from the street or the parking lot.  Or wider aisles for easier movement.

      Accessibility is for everyone.

      1. The handicapped should adapt to meatspace….. meatspace should not adapt to the hadicapped….. It is always fun to spend spend other people’s money… is it not ? Does it violate ADA to fail to accommodate headless people ? Just wondering ( no actually I am mocking you ) I am sure you want to do good…. just do it with your own money…. 99guspuppet

  5. Alan Dove says:

    Nice to see the usual anti-government comments arriving right on schedule. Seriously, though, any space that’s open to members of the public has to meet certain minimum code requirements, and we’re all much safer for it. No, this isn’t some slippery-slope where they’ll have to accomodate the blind at the lathe. However, the authorities could sensibly require standard workplace safety precautions, such as the ones that should have been in place at Yale last year, before that poor girl accidentally killed herself in the machine shop. Remember that? Yeah, that’s why we need regulations.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Right on point, basics like ada toilets and safe wiring are a no brainer. Those not accustomed to opening their location to the public, have the wrong headed idea, it is some kind of freedom issue, its a straight forward safety, and federal ada accomodation issue.
      Makers have no special rights over other public facilities. Alot of work and planning, go into every aspect of opening a space up to public acess. It just common sense.
      Just imagine the liability, if there was a fire, and a patron or member died. Its too late to go back and say oops we should have had that fixed.
      These issues are a small price to pay, for a SAFE enviornment.
      Just be glad your not preparing food…………
      Canoeman

  6. Anonymous says:

    But I am still worried about that poor girls head, they need to beam it back to her, she may need it…………

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