Whidbey Island’s first all-access beach will be dedicated 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21 in a brief ceremony at Clinton Beach Park.
Lined with a path of bright blue mats, it’s designed to be a surface for all abilities and it’s compliant with the American Disabilities Act, said Jane Seymour at a recent Port of South Whidbey meeting.
It’s the first universally accessible public beach in the Northwestern United States, according to Island Beach Access, the nonprofit group behind the project.
Planning, fundraising, permitting and construction took about two years. Mats were first rolled out last summer and put away for the winter in October.
Now, the bright blue strip is back.
“So we’ve reopened Clinton Beach for everyone,” said Seymour, who is the group’s attorney.
South Whidbey resident Mel Trenor, president of Island Beach Access, led the effort.
Known as AccessMats, the blue path provides a firm surface from the parking lot to the water’s edge. It helps the mobility-challenged and people who are visually-challenged, Trenor said.
Completed last summer, the project also added two full-size American Disabilities Act parking spaces, and surfaced the lot with permeable pavers.
The Port of South Whidbey District owns Clinton Beach Park and contributed $8,000 toward the project. It also lent its backhoe and an employee during construction.
The accessible beach dream became reality with the “unflagging support of the Port of South Whidbey, local citizen groups, and very generous private individuals,” Trenor said. It could be the first of several all-access beaches on Whidbey, he added.
The Island County Universal Accessibility Campaign was initiated when Island Beach Access members were told by mobility-challenged residents that there wasn’t any public beach where they could get to the water’s edge.
At the port meeting, Seymour and Trenor rolled out a banner that explains the beach project and thanked commissioners for their support.
“You deserve all the credit,” replied commissioner Curt Gordon. “This is a great project.”