At first, the long blue mat drew puzzled stares.
Very quickly last year however, the Mobi-Mat — running from the Compo Beach boardwalk to the water, near the brick pavilion — proved spectacularly popular.
People using wheelchairs and walkers — plus parents pushing strollers — loved the non-stick surface. Soon it was used by others who, for whatever reason, had trouble navigating the sand.
One of the Compo Beach Mobi-Mat’s many users. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
It was a smart, simple solution to an age-old problem: providing access to amenities for the many folks with mobility or related issues.
That’s not all that our Parks & Recreation Department has done to make Compo more accessible to all.
The boardwalk was extended 2 years ago, from the pavilion to the cannons. This year another section was added, from the cannons to the end of South Beach.
It’s a safety measure for all. And a godsend for everyone with a mobility issue, who just could not walk on the sand — or in the road — to enjoy the very popular barbecue-and-sunset-watching end of Compo.
The new South Beach boardwalk increases accessibility, adds safety — and does not take away those beloved close-in parking spots.
The addition of picnic tables with cutouts for wheelchairs — in the pavilion next to Joey’s by the Shore — was one more small but important recognition that Westport is a place that tries to welcome everyone, of all physical abilities.
So it’s fitting that next Wednesday (June 26, 5:30 p.m., near the new South Beach bathrooms), the town celebrates Westport’s efforts to improve accessibility everywhere.
Parks and Rec director Jen Fava, Human Services director Elaine Daignault and Westport’s Commission on People with Disabilities will host the event. First Selectman Jim Marpe — an ADA champion — will be there too.
The location is significant. Not only are the new bathrooms handicap accessible — of course! — but they’re located across from 2 barbecue stations with ADA-compliant surfaces. They’re specially marked, for folks with wheelchairs and vehicles that transport them.
Jr’s Deli will provide free hot dogs.
Crumb Together — the bakery that trains and employs adults with disabilities — will be there too.
Everyone — of all abilities — is invited!