Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Places to Go in Massachusetts State Parks - Thanks to Kathy Lowry

Accessible footbridge at Quabbin Reservation.
Kathy Lowry worked for the DCR Universal Access Program until she retired last month. She has been a quiet behind-the-scenes presence, a landscape architect who worked for many years diligently at making accessibility improvements to  Massachusetts State Parks. Without people like Kathy, the natural world would not be so accessible. Thanks Kathy for all you have done!!

Kathy's departure has put me more in touch with a gap between the tasks Kathy tackled on a daily basis and the long term enjoyment of the results by the public. In an effort to bridge that gap, here is a list of places you can go for accessible outdoor experiences that had the expert input and guidance of the same dedicated individual.

Accessible waterfront at Lake Wyola in Shutesbury. A
mat runs off the decking ramp into the water quite a
ways for easy wheelchair access.

Of course many skilled people are involved in park improvements - engineers, project managers, equipment operators and volunteers to name a few - but the expertise in landscape architecture, ADA regulations and guidelines and Universal Design that Kathy has gave us a unique resource that we will really miss! I referred people to her regularly because frankly, I just can't hold the technical data in my mind!

Many of these locations are in or near the Connecticut River Valley. Kathy also worked statewide on beach mat and pool lift placements and on numerous consultations and other projects.

Here's the list:

Quabbin Reservation, Ware: Accessible trail bridge, bathrooms and parking at the viewing tower

Mt. Tom State Reservation, Holyoke: Accessible trail section to accessible footbridge over the stream at the back of Lake Bray - soon to be completed

D. A. R. State Forest, Goshen: Accessible fishing docks along accessible lakeside trail

Wells State Park, Sturbridge: Wheelchair accessible trail

Erving State Forest, Erving: Two accessible campsites

Lake Wyola State Park, Shutesbury: Accessible route to and into water with bench, accessible fishing dock

Wendell State Forest, Wendell: Ramp to headquarters warming room, accessible bathroom, winter storage shed for Universal Access equipment, rink liner for man made skating rink

Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Salisbury: Beach mat and benches for views of the water in a few locations

Scusset Beach State Reservation, E. Sandwich: Beach mat and boardwalk for beach access

All State Pools: New pool lifts and site specific improvements to meet new state regulations requiring two accessible points of access for swimming pools

The list could go on! Remember those who have worked to improve access next time you are enjoying the outdoors!

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