Ocean City is planning on installing a beach mat that extends to the water’s edge in a test run at 34th Street in the summer of 2019. By Maddy VitaleOcean City has made a priority of making streets, sidewalks, the bay and the Boardwalk accessible to those with disabilities or limited mobility. And the beaches, the crown jewel of the community, are no different, with mobility mats at most of the beaches to make it easier to get on and off the thick sand.In the latest project to improve access, the summer of 2019 will feature at least one path of mats that will extend to the tide line in a test area at the 34th Street beach. It will offer an amenity for some, and to others, it could provide the only way to easily access the beaches.“The city’s capital budget includes $40,000 annually over the next five years for the replacement and expansion of beach mats,” Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said Wednesday. “The city now has hard-packed dune crossovers and beach mats at 54 different beaches, and each year the city adds more.”The mats, made of hard plastic, create a footpath for beach-goers but they stop short of the water’s edge. The extension would allow seniors and people who are disabled the same access as everyone else to enjoy the beaches.Bergen noted that, based on past purchases, each section of mat, which is about 50 feet long and 5 feet wide, costs about $2,500.It would be money that would be well spent, said Fourth Ward Councilman Bob Barr.Barr, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, said the city’s plan for a test run of the beach mats is an excellent idea.“Any time that you can make the beach more accessible to disabled citizens, we should do it. We have one of the greatest beaches in the country, and we need to make sure everyone has access,” Barr emphasized. “We should try our best to have people enjoy what is our crown jewel.”Beachgoers and their umbrellas pack the sand next to the Ocean City Music Pier at Eighth Street over Fourth of July in 2018.Barr said he spoke with Mayor Jay Gillian and the City Administration about the notion of beach mats extending out. Everyone, he said, was receptive to the idea.“The mayor has always had a willing ear, and always brought me in when it came to all types of issues, but especially these issues. I bring a unique ability to know what it is like. It can be difficult,” Barr explained.He continued, “My wheelchair won’t work on the beach. Even the beach chairs are sometimes difficult for people to push. These mats will allow somebody to basically get all the way from the beginning of the beach to the water.”But he knows there are issues with the upkeep of the mats and some other potential obstacles to success.“You have to keep them clear,” Barr said of the sand. “But that shouldn’t stop us from making our beaches as accessible as they can be.”Joanna Diaz, of Boyertown, Pa., and her 7-year-old daughter, Lilly, walk on a mobility mat at the 34th Street beach in July.Bergen explained some of the challenges to the implementation of the mats. For one, the city would need a plan to remove and protect the mats in storms and extreme tides. They also would have to be kept free of the soft mounds of sand. That would require manpower performing daily beach-cleaning operations.Another issue is what to do when beach-goers reach the end of the path.“We’re discussing the need for a ‘landing area,’ so people in chairs have a place to sit and stay,” Bergen noted.The mats are part of improvements by Ocean City to give people greater access to the shoreline, including beach wheelchairs and hand railings.Bergen said the city has long had a free surf chair program that provides beach-accessible wheelchairs at no cost.Special beach wheelchairs, equipped with big rubber wheels, are available to the public at no cost as part of a city program.“These allow those with disabilities to get around on the soft sand, join their families on the beach and to get up to the water’s edge,” Bergen said.He said the city is adding Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps over bulkheads and off the Boardwalk. Ramps were included at all numbered street ends as part of the Boardwalk’s recent reconstruction.The 34th Street beach, as well as the 59th Street beach, include dune crossovers, longer sections of beach mats and handrails.Barr said he is pleased with the work of Gillian and the city to improve access to the beach for everyone. He is optimistic about the latest plan to extend the beach mats at 34th Street.“I applaud the city and administration for being open-minded and listening to not only me, but Councilman (Keith) Hartzell as well, who helped me on this issue,” Barr said. “Our goal, ultimately, is to have one extended beach mat in each of our four wards. We have to experiment and see how it goes.”Last summer, Brigantine installed beach mats to the shoreline at its 16th Street beach, making it possible for people in wheelchairs to get close to the ocean. Ocean City modeled the plan for 34th Street after Brigantine’s project.“A friend of mine spearheaded that in Brigantine,” Barr explained. “I said, ‘I’d like to do that,’ and the mayor agreed we should at least try it.”The extended mats could be utilized by all beach-goers. They would make it easier for families to lug chairs, umbrellas and other beach gear through the sand.“Many people would get use out of it. Making the beaches, Boardwalk and downtown more accessible is what we want,” Barr said. “People should be able to come down to Ocean City and enjoy their day. We need to accentuate all that we offer. The mats are just another example of us doing that.”For more information visit: http://www.ocnj.us/handicapped-accessibilityBeach mats, like this one at 34th Street, save people from the trouble of trudging through thick sand. The new one would go all the way to the tide line.
January 17, 2021
18-hour daysDerrill is the DARE officer with the Heard County Sheriff’s Department. June Jackson, another volunteer leader, and Ellen Nowicki, my co-worker, were in the girls’ cabin. Chris Nowicki, a 4-H teen leader, helped us all out.We had 18-hour days last week, from about 6:30 in the morning until we got them to go to sleep, which was usually about 12:30 a.m. That makes for especially long days at a camp like Rock Eagle because it’s so big.The camp itself is spread out over 110 acres. From cabin 54, the one farthest away from everything, to the 4-H office, is about a quarter-mile. And if you travel by the road around the camp, you’re going to travel about 2 miles.1,000 4-H’ers at campThe thousand 4-H’ers at camp, mostly 5th- and 6th-graders, were assigned to groups of about 15 or so. They changed to a different class or activity, led by one of about 65 counselors, every hour or two. So we spent our days going to the different classes and activities along with the 4-H’ers.I was with a group of Blue Strings, or the ones who have been to camp before. We sailed on the 110-acre lake, climbed 45 feet up into the trees to ride the zip-line at the high ropes course, worked together to conquer the low ropes course, built a homemade raft and floated it to “Gilligan’s Island,” went canoeing, climbed to the top of the climbing wall and caught all kinds of little critters in the Lake Ecology class.Two huge swimming poolsAnd for fun we went swimming in one of two huge swimming pools, one of which has a water slide.Derrill was with a group of Red Strings all week. They’re the younger, first-year campers. Another group is known as the White Strings. They’re first-year campers, too, but may be a little older than the Red Strings. Both groups had their own agenda for the week.One of the favorite classes of the Red and White Strings was herpetology, better known as the “Snake Class.” It was a favorite for the boys because it was taught by a beautiful, blonde counselor named Devon.A long, long wayAll of these classes and activities took place from one end of Rock Eagle Camp to the other. And that’s a long, long way, especially when you have to walk everywhere.But I learned a long time ago to carry my bike, and I told Derrill to bring one, too. We rode between 4 and 5 miles every day keeping up with the campers and counselors, and in our other duties.But every day, about 5 o’clock in the evening, when all the campers were in the cabins meeting with their counselors, Derrill and I would park our bikes and set out in front of our cabins. Derrill would get out his guitar, and I’d get out my banjo, and for the next hour we’d play.The quarter-flippingDerrill is a better guitarist than I am a banjo player, so we mostly played the songs that I could play.This is where all the quarter-flipping started.You see, the kids on their way to supper (or if you prefer, dinner) had to pass by us. And many of them would stop, take a picture of us and flip mostly quarters into my open banjo case.We made all of $3.15 and had a great time.
September 29, 2020
Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) is inviting tenders to run its direct UK property portfolio, after deciding to outsource its management.Property makes up between 6-7% of the fund’s £12.5bn (€14.8bn) portfolio, split evenly between direct holdings and funds.The aim of the outsourcing of its portfolio was increase both the value of the fund’s property assets and the size of holdings, said Peter Morris, director of pensions, GMPF. He noted that the fund did not possess the internal resource to grow the portfolio in such a fashion.Morris said: “The planned target allocation to property in the medium-term will be increased to 10%, but delivered in various ways. We expect direct property holdings to be in the range of 4 to 8% of the total portfolio. My expectation is that we will also see an increase in average lot size, reflecting the increase in exposure.” Although the invitation to tender is for the direct portion of the property portfolio, Morris said it was possible the manager might choose to invest in specialist pooled vehicles for some assets.“The fund has and will develop other means of obtaining its property exposure, such as Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund, which invests in property development and redevelopment opportunities in north-west England,” he said.The mandate will run for ten years, with an option to extend by five years, and there will be triennial fee reviews.Mangers tendering must have minimum direct UK property assets under management of at least £3bn.The successful manager will be announced in spring next year.,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to GMPF tender notice