The waterways of York County are expanding access to more residents as the county installs a new Americans with Disabilities Act accessible canoe and kayak launching system.
“There is a need to have this access to help give equal opportunities to everyone within our county to access the water,” said Bonnie Fitz, York County parks and recreation superintendent.
Wormley Creek Landing will be home to the only ADA-accessible canoe and kayak launch system in York County. Wormley Creek will remain closed through March 31 while the county installs the new pier and gangway.
The pier will be to the left of the current boat landing and will be built wide enough that a wheelchair can make turns, Fitz said. There will be greater safety in the location with the added pier because it leaves fishing on one side of the landing so there can be multiple users.
“I think it creates a better harmony so that people fishing won’t have to worry about boats coming in and out and boats won’t have to worry about getting in the way of people fishing,” she said.
The new pier and gangway are open for all Wormley Creek visitors but the gangway is designed to be used for those who need it.
The gangway will have a railing next to the launch site, which will be equipped with rollers to easily slide a canoe or kayak into the water. Fitz said the design helps give both single and multiple rowers ease of use.
While in the water, rowers can leave their wheelchair on the pier which will be wide enough to store more than one wheelchair at a time.
“If people want to leave their wheelchair unattended that’s fine, it all depends on their comfort level,” Fitz said. “I’ve found in my 25-plus years in parks and rec, there’s a certain honor system and trust.”
The project will take about three months to complete and cost around $174,847. But the county won’t have to shoulder all of the costs, thanks to a $95,830 grant from the Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund.
In addition to building the new pier and gangway, the county will also use the time to make the parking lot the appropriate grading for ADA standards as well as paint new parking lines.
Fitz said she hopes this will create greater access to the water for all visitors.
“We just hope everyone is as excited as we are,” she said. “We want people to know that this is here and it’s available to them.”