By Benjamin C. Morrison
May 12, 2021

Abigail Fields experiences the nature trail in the city’s newly created Simmons Road Park.

 

 

From time to time, I see an image that really puts things into perspective. For me, this picture was one of those moments. My organization, 8 Flags Playscapes, has spent the last twelve years working to raise awareness in our community about the importance of universal accessibility for our recreational resources. The work can sometimes be challenging, and often does not come without controversy, however seeing the impact it has on people’s lives always makes it worthwhile.

This morning, I received a photo from Abigail Fields, a local resident with a mobility impairment. When we started working on Simmons Road Park, she explained to us and others in the community that there currently are no accessible nature trails anywhere in the city. After two years of hard work and lots of cooperation from many in our community,Abigail finally got the chance to experience the nature trail she had been hoping for.

Amelia Island is such a beautiful place to live, we often take for granted the opportunities we have on a daily basis to be immersed in nature. If we put ourselves in the shoes of others who may not be so fortunate, it makes us appreciate how amazing it must be to experience it for the first time.

Eight Flags Playscapes in a non-profit organization that has completed 3 parks in the City of Fernandina.  If you wish to donate to Eight Flags Playscape, click here.

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DAVID LOTT
DAVID LOTT
8 months ago

So glad that Abigail has been able to enjoy. I don’t know of anyone that has anything but praise and thanks for the work that 8 Flags Playscapes and its supporters have done bringing increased accessibility at some of the city parks. The controversy about Simmons Road park was never about accessibility but questioning whether there were alternative locations that were less environmentally intrusive.

Margo Story
Margo Story
8 months ago

Well said Benjamin, this pix of Abigail reminds us of the natural beauty surrounding our island which all can enjoy. Kudos to 8 Flags…….keep up the good work!!

Medardo Monzon
Medardo Monzon
8 months ago

Congratulations to you and your organization. It’s a beautiful and well-conceived park.

Patrick Leary
Patrick Leary
8 months ago

“Putting things in better perspective” Mr. Morrison and many others may be surprised to learn that the city recreation department offers the following service: “There is a two passenger golf cart available for sign out for those with disabilities.” Via such means, the disabled have complete access to the city’s most extensive nature trails in its Greenway. If unable to operate the cart, a driver is provided. Simmons Road Park may be the only city park qualifying as “ADA accessible”, but it most certainly is not the only assessable nature trail anywhere in the city. Because the Greenway is almost entirely in wetlands, ADA approved (impermeable) trail surfaces are not feasible or desirable, thus the provision of the cart for such access. Bravo to the Recreation Dept. for providing such access!

DAVID LOTT
DAVID LOTT
8 months ago
Reply to  Patrick Leary

Yes, the services by the Parks & Recreation department are well above normal in serving those with mobility impairments. There are also ADA accessible parks/playgrounds behind the Rec Center as well as Egan’s Creek Park. In addition, P&R has a couple of “beach” wheelchairs with the large balloon tires that can be taken out on the beach that are available without a fee (but requires a deposit).

In addition, the City’s Streets Department spends monies each year to even out sidewalk joints and gaps to reduce the possibility of trips or difficulty in using a wheelchair.

Chris Nickoloff
Chris Nickoloff
8 months ago

The Simmons Road Park is awesome! Thanks for your hard work and for creating a city asset that all can enjoy!

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