It would be nice to have all Brewster’s public recreational areas fully accessible. Our committee’s purpose is to assess these sites and suggest ways to make as many of these places as fully accessible, that is wheelchair accessible, as possible. Making areas wheelchair accessible benefits not only those with disabilities but also the general public as well. The comments and recommendations herein are a result of our surveys, especially those returned by people who have disabilities, and our committee members.
Generally speaking, a good accessible pathway is one that has good drainage, a firm surface and is about 5’ in width. (The minimum width of a pathway is 3’.) Accessible pathways should be paved or compact such that a wheelchair will be able to move easily without spinning its wheels or without having difficulty in controlling its direction along the pathway. There are many acceptable pathway surfaces for accessibility needs: composite wood such as TREK, pavers, cement, a thin layer of crushed bluestone on a firm, well drained dirt surface, macadam, and the like. Loose gravel whether it be large or small stone is not a good surface for accessibility needs. Bare ground is not necessarily a good base when it has poor drainage or when tree roots are present. Grassy areas can be very uneven and bumpy and are not a good surface for wheelchairs to traverse. Railings should be used in sloped areas.
Handicap parking: If there is only one handicap accessible parking spot, it should be a ‘van accessible’ one, if possible. A standard handicap parking spot is 8’wide, some with a 5’access aisle; a ‘van accessible’ one is 16’ total width: 11’wide + 5’aisle or 8’wide + 8’aisle.
Drummer Boy Park
Drummer Boy Park is not wheelchair accessible. There are no designated handicap parking spots, the grassy surface may be pretty but it is uneven and bumpy, and the poor drainage makes much of the park inaccessible to everyone after heavy rains. Maneuvering a wheelchair on the grassy surface can be done but it is very difficult to control ones direction. Using a walker or other mobility device is also very difficult. What seems necessary for Drummer Boy Park is for the town to design and develop an overall plan for the park and its usage. These plans should accommodate people with disabilities as much as possible. Perhaps a volunteer committee could be appointed, with one of its members being from our ACAC. With regards to accessibility issues, consideration should be given to the following:
There should be an accessible walkway to the new accessible children’s playground. There should be direct, easy access from a ‘van accessible’ handicap parking spot to the accessible pathway leading to the play area.
Several accessible connected pathways that would go to all parts of the Park---to the windmill, the bandstand, the blacksmith’s shop, the top of the hill, etc. Possibly, a Braille Trail as well.
Handicap parking: Possibly have two separate parking areas - one for the playground and one for everyone else, with at least one ‘van accessible’ handicap parking spot in each.
Scattered benches strategically placed for everyone’s use was suggested by many who took our survey.
Wheelchair accessible bathroom facility.
Grist Mill/Herring Run Area
Road safety changes are currently being made in this area. There should be one van accessible handicap parking spot at the site; prior to these changes, there was no handicap parking. There is a new crosswalk which has a proper curb cut on the Mill (south) side. The Millsites Committee has contacted our committee and together we hope to develop some accessible pathways along the herring run. The Mill itself is unable to be made wheelchair accessible. This road work should be up to ADA standards.
Whitecaps Ball Field
The wheelchair accessible viewing areas are behind home plate and up on the hill by the school. The pathway to and on top of the hill is all macadam and is wheelchair accessible. The walkway leading to behind home plate is part macadam and part dirt covered with crushed bluestone or something like it.
As for handicap parking, there are four signed handicap parking spots - two by the sidewalk near the school entrance, one of which is van accessible, and two nearby at the end of the side parking row. Additional handicap parking is allowed on the hill overlooking the field, but these spots are not on level ground and are therefore not recommended for wheelchair users.
For the last couple of years, a multiple seat golf cart has been used to help people get from their cars to the game area. This is a very welcomed service requested by many from our survey.
Recommendations to improve accessibility:
Pave a new section of walkway from the lower end of the present macadam walkway going over to the designated wheelchair area behind home plate, thus providing a single hardtop pathway from the parking lot to the wheelchair section behind homeplate.
Improve the lighting by the handicap parking spots by the sidewalk. There is only one light there now; two would be better.
Keep the golf cart constantly perusing the parking lots checking for new arrivals, as they do now. Possibly set up designated pickup areas for the golf cart to assist the walkers.
Install a directional sign at the forked entrance into the parking lot to indicate where the handicap parking is located. Visitors who use handicap parking have the tendency to go straight to the front of the school, thus going the wrong way.
Captains Golf Course: This site will be reviewed at a later date.
Other Recreational Sites
Brewster Historical Society Museum
This building is not accessible as it is today. Hopefully the Town Hall consolidation will take place and this Museum will be moving into the fully accessible Council on Aging Building.
The Crosby Mansion
The Crosby Mansion is wheelchair accessible on the first floor only. There is a ramp leading into the side door. The pathway is part grass, part dirt, part gravel but is wheelchair usable. It seems impractical to make any changes to improve the accessibility of this walkway as it seems sufficient for the few days that the Mansion is open to the public.
Ocean beaches were more popular than public pond beaches among those with disabilities. Presently, there is only one ocean beach that can be considered wheelchair accessible and that is Linnell Landing. Wheelchair accessible beaches will usually have some type of boardwalk, one end of which has a ramp, the other end a turnaround area. The turnaround can be extended to be a platform. The turnaround should be level and a minimum of 5’ square; the boardwalk should be a minimum of 3’ wide. Having a bench mounted on the platform is a welcomed addition as long as the platform is big enough to allow the wheelchair to move around.
The most popular ocean beaches indicated on our survey are, in order of preference: Breakwater Beach, Crosby Landing, Linnell Landing and Paines Creek Beach, Mant’s Landing, Ellis Landing and Saint’s Landing, and lastly, Point of Rocks Beach.
This was the most popular ocean beach among those with disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs. Although the beach is not wheelchair accessible, the view from the handicap parking spots is very good and the view can be fully enjoyed while sitting in a car. There is a total of 59* parking spaces, two (2) of which are designated handicap parking, none are designated ‘van accessible‘. There is a portable potty but it is not an accessible one.
There is no easy way to make Breakwater Beach wheelchair accessible due to the current erosion problems. We do recommend adding one (1) ‘van accessible’ handicap parking spot, making a total of three(3) handicap parking spaces, bringing us in line with state requirements.**
Crosby Beach is such a wonderful open vista beach, and we think it can and should be one of Brewster’s principal wheelchair accessible beaches. It has three (3) designated parking spaces, one of which is ‘van accessible’. There are an additional two (2) handicap spaces, which are marked on the pavement only. This is the only town beach with an ‘accessible’ portable potty.
The biggest problem with accessibility here is the boardwalk and wheelchair turnaround. This past summer (2009) the DPW tried a new type of boardwalk. Slats of hardwood roped together leaving about a 1-2” space in between each board. As a boardwalk it worked very well. At the parking lot edge of the boardwalk, a permanent ramp of cement was installed and is a wonderful bridge between the macadam and the boardwalk. At the other end, the beach end of the boardwalk, a long section of the boardwalk was laid on top of the sand, set across the end of the walkway at a 90 degree angle to form a ‘T’ platform. Unfortunately, this platform was not level and not really wide enough. It followed the surface of the sand and therefore was steeply sloped. It was not safe for anyone using mobility aids such as a walker or wheelchair. Also the loose sand that was blown on top of this platform made it excessively slippery for the wheels of the wheelchair. Wisely, at some point this summer, this platform was removed.
We recommend a platform such as the one used at Linnell Landing. Making this platform level and causing no damage to the beach is a challenge. One possible solution might be to build a platform whose support posts would be of varying heights to adjust for the uneven surface of the beach sand upon which it sits. This platform could be built in sections, as we believe the one at Linnell Landing is, and removed and stored during the winter months.
This is the best wheelchair accessible beach in Brewster. It has a short boardwalk which leads to a level platform upon which is a usable bench. As long as the boardwalk is butted up to the macadam at its edge, this setup works very well. There are two (2) handicap parking spots, none are ‘van accessible’. The bench was not in use this summer because of its deteriorated condition. This beach does not have an accessible bathroom facility. We recommend adding one more handicap parking space, making a total of three, even though the total number of parking spaces is just 24* . The reason for this is that Linnell Landing is at present the best and only fully wheelchair accessible beach in Brewster. Out of these three parking spots, one should be ‘van accessible’. We recommended replacing the bench on the platform and installing a handicap accessible portable potty instead of the regular one usually used.
Paines Creek Beach
Paines Creek Beach has a wonderful vista and has one (1) handicap parking spot which allows for excellent viewing of the area. There are two benches placed in the beach area. It has no accessible bathroom.
Due to erosion, it seems unrealistic that wheelchair accessibility can be improved at this beach. As for the parking---typically, if there is one handicap parking spot it should be a ‘van accessible’ one. This means it would have a total width of 16’. Since parking is so limited, it might not be practical to change what is there now. We do hope that the one handicap parking spot will be kept in the front area. As for the benches placed on the beach area, having at least one of them close to the parking area rather than way down the beach, would make it easier for those who cannot walk any distance.
This beach has a wonderful view with a wide entrance to the beach area. It has two (2) handicap parking spots; both have proper signage (one is somewhat buried in a dune), none are designated ‘van accessible’. There is a portable potty but it is not wheelchair accessible. There are no benches on the beach for public use.
Mant’s Landing is one of the town’s beaches that could be made wheelchair accessible by setting up a short walkway and a level platform similar to that at Linnell Landing. An accessible portable potty could replace the one that is usually there. At present there are only two (2) handicap parking spots out of the 41* parking spots. There should be three handicap parking spots in a lot this size**. Adding one more handicap parking spot and making one (1) of them ‘van accessible‘ is what we recommend. The two existing handicap parking spots are each approximately 16’ wide, which is the width of a ‘van accessible’ spot, so space should not be a problem. Having a bench on the accessible platform is also recommended.
This beach has one (1) handicap parking spot, which is not van accessible. It has a regular portable bathroom. It is not wheelchair accessible and does not lend itself to being made so. The one handicap parking space should be made ‘van accessible’, which might be done using the crosshatching adjacent to the present handicap parking spot. A railing installed along one side of the sloped beach entrance would make it safer for beachgoers.
This beach has two (2) handicap parking spots, none are van accessible. The path to the beach is sandy and sloped and has a center railing. This beach is not wheelchair accessible and also, like Ellis Landing, does not lend itself to being made so. It is our recommendation that the more level handicap parking spot on the west side be made ‘van accessible’. This should be easy to do because of the crosshatching adjacent to it.
Point of Rocks Beach
This beach has no designated parking spaces, handicap or otherwise. Because of the location and the steepness of the slope, we believe it would be difficult to have a regular handicap parking space located here. If parking spots are ever designated here, then consideration should be given to one regular handicap space.
Set up the accessible ramps and platforms at the beaches so they are available to the public from May 1st thru late October.
We recommend using accessible portable bathrooms wherever possible but especially at Drummer Boy Park and three particular beaches: Crosby Landing (which has one), Linnell Landing, and Mant’s Landing.
Brewster does have two beach wheelchairs, loaned out during the summer and fall months by the COA. One beach wheelchair is over 10 years old; the other was purchased in 2008. Both wheelchairs have been used by adults and children. In 2008, these chairs were used a total of 42 days; in 2009, 26 days. Some beaches that are not wheelchair accessible can still be enjoyed by those who can use these special beach wheelchairs as long as there is easy access to the beach, that is, no large drop or gap from the parking lot surface to the beach sand. To use one of these chairs, one must have a van or truck to transport it to the beach. We plan to make the public more aware of the availability of these beach wheelchairs.
After we have completed our present work, our next task will be to see how best to follow up with our recommendations. Some are a matter of remarking parking spaces; some involve much more. Perhaps, to help minimize the cost of these recommendations, the town (or our committee if authorized to do so) could possibly seek donations/grants to cover the costs of the benches and materials for these recommended projects as well as seek assistance from organizations such as Brewster’s Eagle Scouts and/or Americorps volunteers.
Possible Future Projects
Punkhorn Woods: develop an accessible pathway with turnaround or viewing platform.
Spruce Hill: develop a wheelchair accessible pathway to a platform overlooking the beach.
Quivet Marsh Overlook
Sidewalks that are wheelchair accessible along Main Street.
*This information came from the January 2008 DPW’s report on Brewster’s Bayside Beaches.
**Disability Rights Laws in MA, February 2006, p. 10.