COEUR d’ALENE — Atlas Park has much to like, but for Devyn Burdett, the ADA-compliant ramp tops the list.
While wearing a dress, the holder of the Ms. Wheelchair Idaho title rolled a few feet into the Spokane River, smiling as she went, beaming even brighter when she left the clear water with friend Debby Carlson at her side.
“I love it,” she said during a gathering at the ramp on a sunny Friday morning attended by about 30 people. “It’s awesome I can actually come down here now and go swimming with my kids.”
It was a double celebration led by the Disability Action Center of both the ramp and of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with speeches, lunch and camaraderie at nearby Riverstone Park.
Michelle Porter, DAC independent living specialist, said the ramp will allow those in wheelchairs to basically roll themselves into the water, secure the chair, and drift away on a flotation device.
It gives them access to the Spokane River in a way not previously available.
“It’s amazing. It’s going to change a lot of people’s lives,” she said.
A kayak launch, which allows a person to transfer from wheelchair to kayak, and the dog park are also both ADA-compliant.
“I think it makes it to where people feel that they can do everything that everyone does,” said Cassandra Palm.
“I think these need to be at every beach, every state,” she added.
The ramp is part of the city’s makeover of what used to be home to a mill.
Marie Widmyer filled in for husband Mayor Steve Widmyer and read a proclamation in honor of the day.
She was proud the city’s newest park gives all people the ability to enjoy the beautiful waterfront site.
“It’s great that choosing to have public access gave opportunities for this to happen,” she said.
Sherri Boelter, DAC independent living advocate, called the ADA-compliant ramp “amazing.”
“To have people I know and care for be able to access the water is just awesome,” she said.