Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hamptons work on beach accessibility


Southampton, N.Y. - Even more village residents will be able to enjoy Southampton’s sandy Coopers Beach this summer as the Southampton Village Board has agreed to purchase a Mobimat Recpath, (pictured) certified to help wheelchair-bound beach-goers take pleasure in gaining access to the beach that they might otherwise be unable to navigate.

“I think it’s a good investment,” asserted Southampton Mayor Mark Epley, who was approached with the idea by a local resident whose husband uses a wheelchair. “It really opens up the beach to a large group of individuals who haven’t been able to enjoy it.”

According to the mayor, the purchase of the mat is approximately $23,000. This purchase will help not only wheelchair-bound beachgoers, he said, but mothers with strollers, and those with rolling coolers or any other beach amenity that needs to be carted. The mat is approximately five feet in width and easily portable, as well.

Shooting down brief assertions that the mat may impede vehicular traffic on the beach, Mayor Epley noted that Deschamps, makers of Mobimat, supplies much of its production to the military efforts in Iraq for the use of vehicular traffic and helicopter landings on the desert sands.

The company also makes a Mobi-chair, a wheelchair seat that can float in the water. Currently, a blue sample Mobimat sits at the end of the handicap ramp at Coopers Beach, though Epley expects the village’s actual purchase to be a more toned-down tan version of the mat, which will continue from the handicap ramp to the lifeguard stand, ending in a “T” formation.

“I took a friend in a wheelchair, and he gave it a thumbs-up,” Epley added.