Fairfield makes beaches more accessible
Fairfield recently celebrated increased handicapped access to its shore front, but Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo said they can always do better.
The town has completed several projects to improve handicapped accessibility at Jennings Beach, South Benson Marina, Sasco Beach, Ye Yacht Yard and Southport Beach.
“These projects are part of an ongoing plan to improve Fairfield’s recreational facilities for everyone, including our seniors and those that need help with access,” First Selectman Mike Tetreau said.
Michelangelo said Pine Creek Beach is the only one not handicapped accessible. “In the future, we would like to address this,” he said. “The biggest challenges are redoing the restroom, and getting a path from the parking lot to the sand which meets grade requirements.”
Restrooms and parking have been upgraded at Jennings Beach, with the restrooms now reconstructed for full handicapped access. There also is a dedicated ADA-compliant parking area, with 10 handicapped spaces, that is closer to the beach and the pavilion.
The benefits of this new parking are twofold, according to Michelangelo. “It not only provides safer and more accessible parking, but also improves runoff by utilizing pervious pavers,” he said. “Our town beaches are one of Fairfield’s best natural and recreational resources. Making our beaches accessible to everyone in our community is very important.”
There is now a handicapped-accessible walkway at South Benson Marina, which includes over 1,800 square feet of concrete sidewalk, with benches, that extends to the fishing pier. A 1,500 square-foot picnic area was added as well.
New sidewalks link the beach, parking area and the handicap accesible restrooms at Sasco Beach, while Southport Beach has seen 550 feet of new concrete sidewalk and upgraded bathrooms.
Ye Yacht Yard, in Southport Harbor, has a new storage and restroom building that is completely handicapped accessible.
“We strive to make all of our recreational facilities and beaches accessible to all our residents,” Recreation Director Gerald Lombardo said. “These new improvements will make it easier for elderly and handicapped residents to enjoy their time at the beach.”
In addition to addressing Pine Creek, Michelangelo said they would like to improve the wooden ramps at Jennings Beach to make them less steep and easier to navigate.
“I think there are seven or eight in total, counting the one at the end of Beach Road,” Michelangelo said “Some of them may be able to meet the handicap criteria. For those that can’t, we can still improve them.”
He said they could also add a second concrete sidewalk spur toward the water at Southport and Sasco beaches, as well as adding a patio-type hard surface area at both facilities, similar to the one at the marina.