The Rye Town Park Commission is aiming to secure state funding for handicap accessibility improvements to two of Oakland Beach’s entrances.
According to Rye Town Supervisor Gary Zuckerman, a Democrat and president of the park commission, the commission is finalizing a grant application due on July 28, after press time, to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for upgrades required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The improvements are estimated to cost as much as $750,000, as of press time.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the law requiring establishments to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled people with both mental and physical conditions.
“The goal of the commission is to make our facilities as accessible as possible to all residents of the town and city [of Rye] and to others who use the park,” Zuckerman said. “We think we have a very good case [for a grant].”
The town of Rye, which has a higher percentage of individuals with a disability than the county overall—16.4 percent of the town’s population is disabled compared to a countywide total of 8.9 percent—has at least 7,464 elderly and disabled residents. At least 29 percent of the town’s veteran population and its over-60 residents have at minimum one disability.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town of Rye’s population last year was estimated at 46,881.
If awarded a grant from the state, the park would join several other Sound Shore beaches that have already made accessibility improvements, including New Rochelle’s Glen Island Park; Harbor Island Park, located off of Boston Post Road in the village of Mamaroneck; and Playland Beach, which is also located in Rye. The state grant would cover half of the cost—roughly $300,000—for the park’s ADA improvements.
Additionally, Zuckerman told the Review the park commission is expecting to discuss other accessibility improvements to the park in August, after receiving a recommendation from Easton Architects, which has been tasked with coming up with several proposals for construction of the park’s facilities. One recommendation will involve ADA improvements to the park’s bathrooms and administrative building.
The park, which overlooks Oakland Beach and the Long Island Sound, is located off of Forest Avenue in the city of Rye. The 62-acre green space and beachfront offers seasonal swimming and year-round use for passive and semi-active events.
Rye City Councilwoman Julia Killian, a Republican and member of the park commission, could not be reached for comment, as of press time.