BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The Port Clinton Beach on Lake Erie has long been a summertime magnet for local folks and visitors to Vacationland. Not everyone finds a sandy stroll especially welcoming, especially if they are confined to a wheel chair or stroller, or relying on a walker or cane.
Connie Roe, Executive Director at Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center in Port Clinton, could only imagine her girls, Autumn and Jessicka Riddle, who have been disabled since birth, dipping their toes in Lake Erie on a sunny June afternoon.
Thanks to a pair of unique portable nonslip roll-up Beach Access Mat RecPath from Mobi-mat, the girls made that journey in their wheel chairs last week with Roe and Tommy Flores at the helm.
They cut the red ribbon to mark the occasion before a bevy of Port Clinton and The Ability Center of Sylvania, Ohio officials. While area television cameras rolled, the girls responded to the sandy adventure with big smiles.
“This is quite a dramatic improvement for allowing people to enjoy the beach and Lake Erie,” said Roe, whose agency manages a wide range of family services, including CASA, TNT Mentoring, TICKET to Success, GRAND love, and Summer Lunch.
The Mobi-Mat team is celebrating almost 30 years of experience in the field of Parks and Recreation Accessibility and Vehicle Tactical Mobility. The mats are so hardy, last week’s gale force northeast winds and Lake Erie flooding could not knock out the rugged pathways.
“One Mobi-mat survived well, while the other needs to have some grommets repaired,” said Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider, who has spearhead grand plans for the city.
“The city crews have been working diligently to make Port Clinton proud of its Lake Erie beach, providing a lot of new amenities,” said Snider.
As a result, early this summer crowds have been enjoying the renovated beach at downtown Waterworks Park, its new Port Clinton Lighthouse and taking photos with the Lake Erie Love sign.
This past weekend, the Walleye Festival had to be put on hold at Waterworks Park because of the dramatic northeast winds and high water, but the fun will resume on Thursday through Sunday, June 3-6.
A Portage River Walkway is being designed for the west side of Waterworks Park along the Portage River, and the eastern end of the beach, which is home to a Mobi-mat, is being renovated across from Lakeview Park, a jewel for recreation, art shows and family picnics.
The Friends of the Port Clinton Parks is completing plans for a new restroom facility near the Port Clinton Lighthouse. The city is also putting in a canoe and kayak launch in the area.
“Port Clinton is a tourist attraction and prides itself on being a welcoming community for all guests and residents,” said Public Relations Manager Mallory Crooks of The Ability Center. “They are making great strides to ensure all people can utilize the beach and families can play together in an inclusive space.”
The Ability Center in northwest Ohio works to make local communities the most disability friendly in the country through advocating, partnering and providing services supporting people with disabilities. The Ability Center has served Ottawa County, as well as Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Henry, Defiance and Williams counties, since 1920.