COEUR d’ALENE – Tom McTevia was the first person in a wheelchair to use the recently constructed Tubbs Hill Accessible Trail.
Monte McCully, city of Coeur d’Alene trails coordinator, told The Press it was appropriate that McTevia – who was killed in an ATV crash in April – was the first to use the trail. After all, it was McTevia who fought tirelessly for its creation.
On Saturday at noon, members of the community and city officials will be at the east entrance to Tubbs Hill Park, 982 E. Lakeshore Drive, for a ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the trail, and to honor the life of the man instrumental in its formation.
“I think he was really proud of it; he thought it was going to be a wonderful thing for the ‘minorly inconvenienced’ community to use that trail,” McCully said. “I don’t know if he was emotional, as far as being choked up or anything, but he was very happy and you could definitely see the light in his eyes.”
Those in wheelchairs who are fairly active and can move well will have no trouble accessing the hill without assistance, McCully said. He added that the completed trail will not only provide access to people in wheelchairs, but for the elderly, people pushing strollers, and anyone who has trouble hiking rough trails as well.
“It’s mainly to get these people out who have been unable to get out into a natural setting for a number of years and would like to get out there,” McCully said.
Angela MacDonald, an independent living specialist at Disability Action Center NW, told The Press that the creation of the accessible trail is a milestone for the disabled community in North Idaho. She said some individuals with whom she works closely at the center have been overcome with joy and elation knowing they will get to be on Tubbs Hill again, or for the first time.
“That barrier has been removed,” MacDonald said. “To have that freedom to once again partake in the beauty and nature of Idaho, you can’t even put a price tag on that – it’s priceless.”
MacDonald added that her organization has been working with city officials on creating a memorial for McTevia at the foot of the trail. The plan is to place a park bench, with a plaque on it, and surround the bench with native trees.
“Tom was the pioneer, he was the one that was driving the movement forward,” MacDonald said. “We want to keep the memorial as ‘in-nature’ as possible, but let people know that Tom paved the way for access to Tubbs Hill.”
To donate to the memorial creation fund, click the “Donate” button at www.dacnw.org, and mention “Tom’s Memorial” in the note section. MacDonald said funds received for the effort beyond what is needed for the memorial will go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Story by Keith Cousins