Thursday, February 2, 2023

James City County makes Jamestown Beach more accessible for those in wheelchairs

Jamestown Beach now has a floating wheelchair available for public use. (WYDaily/Courtesy of James City County)
Jamestown Beach now has a floating wheelchair available for public use. (WYDaily/Courtesy of James City County)

The beach just got a little more accessible along the James River.

In April, James City County bought a water-accessible floating wheelchair for beachgoer use at Jamestown Beach Event Park.

The wheelchair has several floating components and can be adjusted or reclined. It also has multiple straps to keep the user in the chair.

The County often looks for opportunities to improve services and be inclusive,” said Alex Holloway, park operations manager for James City County, in an email. “We learned by way of a trip to Yorktown Beach last season that they provided the service and thought that this should be something that we could offer, as well.”

The chair was bought April 16 for $1,990 including shipping from Marine Rescue Products, Holloway said. The company sells lifesaving products and gear for those who patrol beaches.

While the park has been accessible for those with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the wheelchair is the latest service for beachgoers.

The beach also has a mat over the sand that gives those with disabilities or wheels a more stable surface. It is similar to Yorktown’s Mobi-Mat.

The wheelchair is the only one at the beach, and available on a first-come first-served basis. It can also be reserved up to two days in advance, the county wrote on its Facebook page.

Using the wheelchair at Jamestown Beach is free, but requires the user to sign an agreement, Holloway said.

The chair is also limited to individuals under 250 pounds. All patrons, regardless of age, need to be with a guardian 18 years or older while using the wheelchair.

Parks Administrator Alister Perkinson said Jamestown Beach is the only public beach access in James City County at this time, therefore the county will not need to buy a similar wheelchair for other sites.

There are ADA-compliant pool lift chairs at the county’s three pool sites, Perkinson added.

How to sign up to use the wheelchair

Those interested in using the beach wheelchair should bring a person over the age of 18. That person needs to have a state-issued identification card with them.

When they arrive, the person needs to check in at the concession building at the park and complete a user agreement. The chair is also stored near the concessions building.

Staff are on-hand when the concessions building is open to answer questions and monitor chair usage.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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