Long since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals have been advocating for the rights of those with disabilities. One such battle which has been gaining steam in the Hudson Valley is for all to have the ability to enjoy nature.
Black Rock Forest Consortium recently unveiled a new path, opening the forest to individuals with disabilities, children in strollers, and senior citizens. Last year, the gazebo at Donahue Memorial Park in Cornwall-on-Hudson became more accessible.
Five years ago Kara Dorsey, who has had to use a wheelchair for 26 years as a result of a car accident, wanted to visit the riverfront park with her husband and service dog. It was a beautiful day and the couple was prepared to have lunch along the water. Dorsey’s excitement quickly changed to frustration when she saw the steps required to enter the gazebo.
“I was shocked to see there were two or three steps to get to the gazebo,” Dorsey, a Cornwall resident, said. “It could have easily been made accessible from the beginning.”
Dorsey, who serves on the Board of Directors for Independent Living in Newburgh, visited Village Hall to speak with then newly elected mayor, Brendan Coyne. She expressed her concerns and received a positive exchange.
“It was very refreshing because he too was shocked that it was not made accessible from the beginning and wanted to rectify the situation right away. He promised he was going to look into it, but wasn’t sure how he was going to get it accomplished. He promised me he would take care of it. Sure enough he did.”
It took a number of years, but Coyne was eventually able to secure a $15,000 Community Block Grant to not only create a path to the gazebo, but expand the parking lot from which the path originates.
The path was completed last summer, but Coyne did not have contact information to relay the good news to Dorsey.
“I just happened to go down there and saw it had been fixed,” she said. “I was very happy. It was just wonderful to go down there and not be frustrated, but have this feeling of happiness and accomplishment.”