Wheelchairs Get a Lift to the Beach in Long Beach Township

Jun 14, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini demonstrates how the new wheelchair elevator works.

Leaving the beach at 131st Street in the Beach Haven Terrace section of Long Beach Township on Monday morning, Dee Wible and Jeanie Stouffer of Pittsburgh, Pa., tried out the wheelchair lift at the street end of the walkway at the urging of township Mayor Joseph Mancini. After their quick ride 5 feet down from the walkway to the street, and a quick chat, Wible and Stouffer were off to Pinky Shrimp’s for lunch, while Mancini explained the mechanism.

Over the past year or two, the township has installed five wheelchair lifts throughout the municipality: at 93rd Street in Peahala Park, 105th Street in Beach Haven Park, 119th Street in Haven Beach, the one at 131st Street in Beach Haven Terrace and, as well, one in Bayview Park in Brant Beach.

Following beach replenishment – a joint enterprise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection – the USACE works with the state and municipality to install a certain number of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant beach walkways. “Typically,” noted Steve Rochette, public affairs officer for the USACE, “we … build where there are existing ones, prior to the project.”

The walkways built post beachfill, said Mancini, included some hairpin turns that filled with sand during storms – and were very difficult to clear out – and also crossed into the dunes in front of oceanfront homes. “So I came up with this little invention here,” he remarked.

Individuals in wheelchairs can enter the lift from the street, and with the touch of a button are transported 5 feet up to the walkway, which stretches to the beach. The walkways, meanwhile, include a secondary vinyl handrail, and horizontal stainless steel wiring that allows sand to blow through.

The original walkways, with their many turns, cost $200,000 each, said the mayor. The new ones are $60,000 each, which includes about $20,000 per lift.

“They’re painted like an automobile,” Mancini said of the lifts. “Will they rust? Yes. But we’ll try to stay on top of that.” And the township can replace the lifts every few years if necessary, which he believes is easier than the hairpin-turn maintenance, which found public works employees digging out sand by hand. —J.K.-H.

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