County working to make parks more handicap accessible

May 13, 2013

Erie County is increasing handicapped accessibility in some of its parks, not an easy task in woods and on trails.

The big plan right now surrounds the casino in Chestnut Ridge Park, with county officials waiting for construction bids on a series of projects. They include paving the parking lot, dedicated handicapped parking, better lighting, and islands in the parking lot.

Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park

The county is working with the Board of Elections to get a $154,000 grant because the casino is also a polling place.

Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commissioner Troy Schinzel says wooded areas are a problem but accessibility is improving around buildings.

"Even a lot of our parks, Como Park, Chestnut, Sprague, there are some of the back area shelters and buildings where it's not paved. They are gravel, there are stone lots at some of our shelters. In some of our more formal areas where we have the Martin and Chestnut Ridge Casino and actual buildings and structures, we do a much better job in the accessibility," Shinzel says.

Schinzel says many county parking lots are gravel rather than blacktop and there are no graded boardwalks to the beach in county parks, a problem for those with impaired mobility.