Beach accesses are becoming the most accessible they’ve ever been.
The city has installed a pedestrian access mat at Beach Circle Access Four.
People are now able to easily get from the parking lot all the way to the hard-packed sand whether they’re in a wheelchair or utilizing a walking apparatus.
Additionally, city officials are currently in the midst of installing more than 2,600 feet of matting at 17 of the city’s 27 public beach accesses. The total cost of improvements is about $102,000.
According to South Padre Island Shoreline Director Brandon Hill, several of the accesses have either a walkover or a mat, but not all of the mats on the beach accesses reach all the way to the line of vegetation and none of them have ever reached past the line of vegetation.
“ The city has had mats like these on its public beach accesses for years,” Hill said. “The difference is this is the first time the city has made a conscious effort to not only have mats that go only part of the way to the beach.”
The idea for additional mat installations was brought up to the Shoreline Department by city council member Ken Medders Jr.
“ A luxury to some is being able to go to the oceans edge, but not everyone leaves here with that experience,” Medders said. “This matting is going to provide a good quality of life especially to our veterans, handicapped and elderly community.”
Hill said city officials are trying their best to ensure that no matter what situation people are in, they have the ability to visit the beach.
He said he’s noticed a lot of people don’t know about the free beach accessible wheelchairs beachgoers can pick up from the fire department. Each wheelchair has large balloon tires that allow people to roll onto the beach and float in the water.
South Padre Island Mayor Dennis Stahl said he felt honored and confident to say that the city of South Padre Island is now more accessible than it’s ever been. He believes the additional matting represents improvement not only to the beach accesses, but also to the lives of residents and visitors alike.
By ALANA HERNANDEZ Staff Writer