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Disabled park users have more amenities available

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they don’t have an interest in outdoor pursuits.

The Carson City Parks and Recreation Department is making additions to public parks to allow better access for those who enjoy these pursuits – or just want some fresh air – but have special needs.

“The idea is that we want grounds to be accessible to everyone in the community,” said Vern Krahn, the city’s parks planner.

Carson River Park, for example, has improved paths from the parking lot to the picnic area and restrooms.

People in wheelchairs or on crutches can watch animals and plants, eat lunch, read a book and watch the river flow during the spring and early summer.

The new paths have harder surfaces and gentler angles so people using them can get around more easily than before. The material is a compacted decomposed granite. It’s a natural material, very fine granite tightly compacted, said Jeremy Vican, of Beneficial Designs Inc., a Minden-based business that focuses on the recreational needs of people who have mobility issues.

Cost to make the trail improvements was $4,100, of which a portion was offset with grant money, Krahn said.

While many other city parks provide solid walkways that are suitable for people who require wheelchairs or walkers to get around, this is the only one with the view of the Carson River in a highly natural setting that is also convenient.

The parking lot for Riverview Park requires someone to cover a great deal more distance to reach the amenities, though it has signs to help disabled people decide whether they want to use certain paths. Ambrose Carson River Natural Area, under the auspices of the city and U.S. Bureau of Land Management, has steep grades and no restrooms. Morgan Mill Road Access Area has no restrooms either.

Disabled residents who like to stick a pole in the water can make special arrangements to fish off of the pier within the 40-acre Carson River Park. Special arrangements might also be needed to get down to the pier, however, so contact the parks department at 887-2363 before heading out.

Beneficial Designs has measured trails across Northern Nevada for access and maintenance. The company also completed an inventory about the characteristics of 17.2 miles of trails to compile information about all of them.

Signs in three locations – Riverview, Mexican Ditch and the Moffat open space area – already provide highly detailed information about conditions such as grade, slope, surface and width of the trails.

The additional information provided allows disabled park users to decide whether they are able to use a path safely and comfortably.

Disabled children can play in newly upgraded areas at two other parks. The upper playground at JohnD Winters Centennial Park and the east playground at Mills Park are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

John B. Mankins Park, expected to open in September on Oak Ridge Drive, and Ronald D. Wilson Memorial Park, which should be finished next spring on Mark Way, both will have parking for disabled users and play areas that are handicapped compliant.

Youths can pull up to these play areas, travel easily over them and lift themselves out of their chairs and start playing, said Scott Fahrenbruch, director of parks operations.

“Our goal is to eliminate the barriers,” Krahn said. “The idea is to provide accessibility to everyone, and we address this as we upgrade facilities and when we design new ones.”

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.