FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Although state and local beach-related ordinances continue to change frequently these days, at least one Riviera Beach CRA waterfront initiative continues to ramp up in popularity: floating wheelchairs and beach mats to assist beachgoers with disabilities.
January 11, 2021, RIVIERA BEACH, FLORIDA – The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency – with its multifaceted mission to guide the redevelopment of the City of Riviera Beach – continues to make the waterfront more accessible to all who live, work, and play in the District. That means beachgoers who find it challenging to navigate the sand and water at the beach at the Marina Village too!
According to the 2019 American Community Survey, 13.4% of the Florida population suffers from some form of disability, with the highest percentage by disability type being those with ambulatory disabilities, 7.5% of the population at large and 32.8% of those over the age of 65. U.S. Census Bureau estimates report that 8.3% of Riviera Beach residents have a disability, excluding those over the age of 65. Many of these individuals are served by organizations such as Seagull Services, Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation Center, The Arc of Palm Beach County, Lindsey Davis Community Center, and the numerous local churches with senior programming.
Unfortunately, though parking and existing buildings were constructed to meet ADA guidelines, the area lacks the specialized equipment needed to provide beach access. According to the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association’s Recreation Resource Database, there are currently only four oceanfront parks in Palm Beach County that offer beach accessibility resources for disabled visitors. These access points are located at Atlantic Dunes Park in Delray Beach (28.5 miles from Bicentennial Park), Jupiter Inlet Park in Jupiter (9.5 miles from BP), Oceanfront Park in Ocean Ridge (22.5 miles from BP) and South Inlet Park Beach in Boca Raton (35.5 miles from BP). Correcting the inaccessibility of Bicentennial Park’s beach will provide a waterfront recreation option that is currently deficient in Northeastern Palm Beach County.
The redevelopment of Marina Village has drawn residents and visitors to the area from all walks of life, and that does not exclude the disabled population, who are regular users of the watersport activities offered at the Marina and Bicentennial Park. One of the main people who advocated for this project was Lisa Lynch, who sustained serious injuries nine years ago while boating in the Palm Beach Inlet leaving her dependent on a wheelchair. She loves kayaking and the Riviera Beach Marina Village waterfront was nearly impossible to enjoy after the accident, because wheelchairs and sand do not make for a good combination.
Thanks to her efforts of bringing this item to light, the Riviera Beach CRA received $10,338 from the State of Florida to assist with this initiative from the Coastal Partnership Initiative Grants. The Coastal Partnership Initiative was created to promote the protection and effective management of Florida’s coastal resources in four specific priority areas: resilient communities, coastal resource stewardship, access to coastal resources, and working waterfronts.
In March, Phase I of the initiative saw the installation of the MOBI beach mats, which are compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. These 5-foot-wide mats are essentially walkways that extend from the sidewalk down and adjacent to the water. Beachgoers who rely on wheelchairs and other aids for their mobility, as well as families pushing kids in strollers, etc., are finding that traversing the sand is a lot less cumbersome now.
Phase II of the plan followed with MOBI floating wheelchairs that give people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the beach and the water in ways that they might not have experienced before.
This equipment and more provided by the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and the State of Florida Coastal Partnership Initiative Grant is available now. Marina Bash 2021 is being planned to introduce this program to the community in Riviera Beach. Please check with Marina Village and the CRA for updates about beach opening prior to visiting.
The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency is at the heart of dramatic transformations underway within the district. Formed in 1984 by the Riviera Beach City Council, the Riviera Beach CRA provides funding for a wide scope of projects that incentivize economic growth through business attraction and retention; finances and new and improved infrastructure for real estate projects; and generally works to expand the tax base by creating a welcoming environment that eliminates blight and improves the perception of safety in the area.
The Agency’s main mission is to guide the city’s redevelopment efforts. This includes making investments of public funds in key infrastructure improvement projects that have the capacity to act as a catalyst for additional private funding and development, create jobs and help to improve the quality of life for city residents. For more information about the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, follow the official Facebook, Instagram @RBCRA and Twitter @RivieraBeachCRA pages or visit www.rbcra.com.