MERIDIAN TWP., Mich. — Meridian Twp. is home to 20 parks, trails and playgrounds. Each one meets the minimum Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but the township wants to take it one step farther by establishing a Universal Access Advisory Board.
“Meridian Township, we always want to make sure that our parks are accessible for everyone,” said Parks and Recreation Director LuAnn Maisner.
The Americans with Disabilities Act has requirements for parks and outdoor recreations areas to ensure they're accessible for everyone.
Some of those requirements include accessible parking, wide trails, seating areas, curb ramps and height requirements for things like drinking fountains and tables.
“With our playground facilities we always buy those through a playground manufacturer because during the manufacturing process the need to meet all of those guidelines,” Maisner said.
Maisner said the township is looking to go a step above those minimum requirements by establishing the board to review suggestions from the community that could make the park more enjoyable for everyone. She believes the pandemic increased how many people are using the township's parks.
“Our community has always been very supportive of our parks and trails, but I think with the recent pandemic it’s even grown to a greater degree," Maisner said. "So with that, we want to make sure that everyone feels more inclusive.”
So far, suggestions have included amenities like an electric wheelchair charging station.
“That’s an amenity that we added into our parks that we probably typical would not have done, but if that’s going to make it easier for folks with electric wheelchairs to come and use our Central Meridian Regional Trail Connector then it was a great idea,” Maisner said.
People have also requested more benches be put in along the trails.
“We do have a few, but there’s some older folks who said you know, it would be nice, we would love to come walk your trails, utilize your facilities, but it’s just a little too far between the benches so we can sit down and rest,” said Maisner.
The township will be installing both of those suggestions. The wheelchair charging station has been delayed due to shipping, but will be installed as soon as it arrives.
Maisner said these improvements are paid for by the park's millage or by applying for grants.
“Ingham County Parks and trails millage is a grant program for communities in Ingham county, there’s federal transportation dollars, state transportation dollars," Maisner said. "So, we’re always looking to seek partnerships and ways for us to better utilize our local dollars and make them go a lot farther.”
The board will be tasked with reviewing suggestions for all parks and trails and the township's five-year park site plan to go beyond the minimum ADA requirements.
“It’s not necessarily what we’re looking for is the grab bars are a certain height and the doorways are a certain width, we understand all of those things," Maisner said. "It’s what can we do to make the park experience more enjoyable for all of our park users.”
Anyone who's interested in serving on the board can apply, Maisner said, by contacting (517) 853-4600 or contact Jane Greenway, Senior Parks, and Land Management Coordinator at email@example.com or (517) 853-4610.
An application to serve on any public board can also be found here.
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