Jersey Shore donation lets people in wheelchairs get to the water
SEASIDE PARK — An idea by Jessica Krill and her organization, Beach Days for All, became reality this week at the F Street beach with the installation of a 200-foot-long ramp that extends out another 50 feet to make a "T."
The product and the ramps were all donated by Matrax, a Maryland-based sports turf company co-founded by New Jersey native Joe Wright.
An opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday. Public works crews and police are creating new handicapped spots along the street.
Borough Administrator Bob Martucci said Krill called him several weeks ago with the idea that would allow those who can't walk in the sand to go to the water's edge.
"It's a great thing. It really allows families to be inclusive on the beach" and let an entire family enjoy the beach and ocean close up.
"We have a couple of handicapped beaches in town but they take you to the toe of the dune. They don't really take you out onto the beach near the water," Martucci said.
Martucci said that anyone with a mobility issue will benefit from the ramps.
"Everyone from the truly, physically disabled in wheelchairs to those who are old and say 'my knees are killing me,'" Martucci said.
After a friend heard about about Krill's idea, they brought it to the attention of Matrax co-founder Joe Wright. The friend thought the covers Matrax makes to protect the turf at MetLife Stadium and Yankee Stadium during non-sporting events was the solution to Krill's proposal.
"I had a very good friend of mine who was in a wheelchair so I was kind of privy to site-access issues for him over the years," Wright told New Jersey 101.5.
Wright said he is aware of other similar products the state usually uses but is confident his company's mats are better suited for the beach.
"My product is different in that is modular and it's hard so it's a little better for people to get on. It's a little nicer for people with canes and wheels. The DPW guys are telling me its great because they can drive their equipment over it.
"I offered up the product because I knew Jessica wasn't getting it done if someone had to spend money. It was important for her to start this process quickly and get it done this year so I jumped on it and we made a donation of materials for them to try," Wright said.
"I feel blessed to be part of it and to have the ability to help a program like Beach Days for All. It's been pretty awesome," Write said.
Wright, who lives in Morris County, hopes that if it goes well other east coast beaches will be interested in getting similar ramps.
Martucci, who walks with a cane, and Seaside Park Public Works Supervisor Eric Wojciechowski put the mat to the test to make sure the Matrax covers were suitable to what Martucci calls a "play sand" texture.
"It's a nylon type of material. It's made like diamond plate and it hooks together. And it's very solid. We drove an 8-ton loader over it five times and it didn't budge" Martucci said. "It held the contour of the beach beautifully. If you look at it right now it almost looks like a little ski slope."
Martucci said Wright and his company were "a great group to work with and obviously they got a heart. To donate this kind of product to trial on a beach like this is a great thing."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.