Barre Falls Dam Picnic Area: An Outdoor Developed
Area "Making the Grade" in Hubbarston, MA
Spring time brings a flurry of activity to our parks and recreation
areas. As people return to the parks en masse, recreation providers
hustle to make improvements to their sites. As park staff undertake
spring projects, consider the Barre Falls Dam example and take a proactive
approach towards providing accessibility. "We had picnic tables
with no seats. People with disabilities would come with their families
and the family members would have no where to sit." Ralph Gendron,
Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, refers to the
picnic site recently completed at Barre
Falls Dam in Hubbardston, Massachusetts.
|Picture of an accessible picnic area at the east end of Barre Falls Dam.
At many recreation areas, picnicking is the most popular activity
for visitors; and site managers must devise a way to make their
picnic areas accessible. At the east end of Barre Falls Dam, Ralph
Gendron and his staff have created an accessible picnic area that
takes into account all elements of the site. The staff, including
former and current project managers, the operations manager and
the park ranger, understands the need for accessibility and for
providing access to the widest range of people. Rather than wait
for a complaint, the staff took initiative to make accessibility
improvements which include: picnic tables, a rotating pedestal grill
and an information kiosk.
The two square pedestal picnic tables have had two seats removed for
wheelchair accessible seating. The accessible tables were purchased
from Iron Mountain Forge,
same cost as non-accessible tables. Barre Falls Dam staff used to
make their own tables on site, but according to Gendron, buying from
a reputable vendor results in reduced liability concerns, reduced
project time and "a much better product."
|(Top) An example of grill area that is accessible from all sides and utilizes concrete surfacing.
|(Bottom) An example of a kiosk that is accessible and utilizes concrete surfacing.
Stone dust, a by-product of granite, was the original surface at
the site, but it was soon replaced with concrete when staff noticed
visitors having difficulty maneuvering on the material. Additionally,
the maintenance schedule for stone dust includes redressing several
times per month and an annual replenishment; therefore the site
staff expects to recoup the cost of the concrete installation ($1900)
in reduced maintenance materials and labor costs.
Unlike picnic elements commonly misplaced at other public recreation
sites, the grill and kiosk at Barre Falls Dam were placed on a firm
and stable surface (concrete) to allow for access around all sides
of the elements.
The pedestal grill is located on the same pad as the picnic tables,
while a concrete path connects the picnic area to the bulletin board.
The bulletin board provides park information to visitors. The bulletin
board brochure racks are located 32 inches above the ground; a height
that is within the reach range of children and adults, and people
with or without disabilities.
|Picnic/Bulletin Board Plan:
"When planning our projects, we try to think family,"
indicates Gendron. "In addition to wheelchairs, we have strollers,
small children, elderly folks, and the not-so-physically-fit."
During the improvement project, facility staff received suggestions
and remarks from visitors with disabilities. The planning team took
the opportunity to speak with visitors about their interests and
needs and then incorporate the information into the site plan.
The site plan for the accessible picnic area and bulletin board
is available here on the NCA website as a resource for recreational
professionals during site accessibility improvements.
Special thanks to William Rogers and Ralph Gendron, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, for submitting this best practice for inclusion
in NCA's "Making the Grade."
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Barre Falls Dam
Hubbardston, MA 01452
Phone: (978) 928-4712
Iron Mountain Forge
PO Box 897
Farmington MO 63640
Toll Free: (800) 325-8828
National Center on Accessibility
2805 East 10th St, Suite 190
Bloomington, IN 47408-2698
(812) 856-4422 (voice)
(812) 856-4421 (tty)