August 14, 2009

City looks to make North Beach more accessible

The city's Parks Department hopes to build a handicap-accessible path like this across North Beach next year to make it easier for people to reach the water. A sample of the path - this one manufactured by Mobi-Mat, was laid out on the beach this week for people to try out.

It'll be a lot easier to cross North Beach next summer if the city's Parks and Recreation Department gets its way.

The department is requesting money to build a portable walkway across the beach to allow people in wheelchairs to reach the water. The handicap-accessible vinyl path, used on beaches around the country, also would help parents with strollers, children, the elderly and anyone else enjoy the beach, said Donnie Snow, head of the parks department.

"Even people without disabilities will be able to get out to the beaches easier," Snow said.

A sample of the walkway (see photos above and below) was laid out on North Beach this week. The path created a clear path on top of the sand to walk on. If money comes through, the city would install a full 600-foot path from the North Beach Oasis to near the water's edge, Snow said. It would also consider a "T" intersection close to the water to allow people to spread out along the beach.

The path has already received support form the public. During this week's parks meeting, Snow distributed nine letters he received in support of the path. Many of the letters were from parents who enjoy using the beach, but often struggle to walk with their children from the parking lot to the water.

The main obstacle to installing the walkway - it simply lays on top of the sand and is staked into the ground - is the cost. Snow plans to budget $40,000 for the path in this year's capital budget. He admitted given the economy and the city's budget challenges it may be difficult to find the money. But he intends to try, because it would be another improvement to North Beach, one of the city's best resources.

Another view of the temporary mat laid out on North Beach this week.

This photo from the Mobi-Mat website shows a "T" intersection using the company's temporary mats. Racine is considering a smilar layout for North Beach.


  1. I hope it goes all the way to the water. It would make a great runway for a skateboard dive.

  2. On Monday night the Mayor said, "Racine would be the first city in the world to have a handicap accessible beach." Oh really? It must be kind of like the Gore thing where in he sort of invented the internet but not really. This is a terrific idea and needed no embellishments so why do politicians feel the need to embellish like this - citizens would buy into this type of a purchase even if Racine wasn't the first beach to install the mats because it is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy the beach. Use the $48,000 that Waukesha is going to pay for the timecard system and get this done right away.

  3. Plenty of other cities already offer these mats-- Chicago's Lake Michigan beaches have had these for many years.
    That being said, it's a win-win for everyone who uses the beach.

  4. I agree we need access. But these matts do not look complicated. $40,000? Seems a bit much. Is there a company in Wisconsin making similar matts?

  5. The city of Chicago is conducting a study of which mats are best. Maybe we should make sure we are getting the best ones. They already need to replace their damaged mats. f you would like to provide feedback about your experiences with the test products, contact the Chicago Park District Disability Policy Office at 312-742-5097 or visit CPD's Web site at

  6. Have you noticed every time the mayor speaks he puts his foot in his mouth, either speaking untruths or making no sense.

  7. Why not lay a sidewalk of concrete in a suitable place. I bet it would last longer.

  8. "the Mayor said, "Racine would be the first city in the world to have a handicap accessible beach."

    Is this another one of the multi-trillion $$$ technologies CATI has launched?

  9. Sounds like waste that is going to be junked up by people with strollers and people just walking ?
    Get some asphalt or crete out there, the city just "got a great deal" on a pile of gravel from Globe Contractors, its sitting down the street from Nort Beach at the old Walker Muffler weedlot.

    Also, ok 9 people wrote support letters, is there a huge demand for handicapped folks to get to the beach ?

  10. Here again Dickert shoots his mouth off before knowing the facts. He says, "Racine would be the first city in the world to have a handicap accessible beach." What an idiot. Does he think we're going to buy into the lie just because he says it's so? Yep, he just put himself in the same catagory as Al Gore, baffoon extraordinaire.

    I am all in favor of providing easy access to any recrecational facility for the handicapped. But I think this is a big waste of money on something that is not going to hold up under the traffic that almost all beach-goers are going to use. The initial cost of $40,000.00 is obscene. I could see $4,000.00, but a $40K cost for a roll-out, stake-down mat can not be justified. I agree with Anon 9:48, a concrete sidewalk would make much more sense and last considerably longer (asphault would just be too hot to walk on). These mats wouldn't last one tenth of the time that a sidewalk would and would cost $40,000.00+ each time they needed to be replaced. To replace a single square of a sidewalk would cost less that $150.00. Here is just another example of the city councils inability to think something through.

  11. I always considered Smith and Becker dunderheads when they were mayor of this fine city. I had no idea that this current mayor could make those guys look like rocket scientists. I am sorry I voted for him. You fooled me once Mr. Mayor, but I guarantee you I will not be fooled again in 2011.

    "I said, but your in Racine"

    "I said, I know, but your in Racine"

    After that BS story he ripped off from a novel, I can't believe anything.

  12. Sad. All that money. Maybe there could be a beach-friendly handicapped conveyance that could be rented or borrowed if a disabled person really wanted to get to the water. Wouldn't that be an idea!?

  13. A concrete walkway to a 10'x50' patio at the water's edge is the answer. Inexpensive with minimal maintenance and a lot less than $40,000.00!!!!

    City Council, quit taking for granted that us property and business owners have pockets with no bottom in them!!!!

  14. Chicago is already replacing these sorts of mats. How long did they last. They are also looking to find the best product. Lets learn and not make the same mistakes.

  15. As a family with two wheelchaired adults, we encourage the city NOT to uglify the beach with blue plastic walks or to "pave paridise" with sidewalks. Please keep our beach beautiful and natural. Offer sand-accessible wheelchairs to those with handicap stickers (from the Oasis?). We hear that the The Zumba team plans to donate one. We currently park in the southmost parkinglot; we can go out on North Pier and be close to sand and waves. That experience is wheelchair accessible today.