SOMERSET, Ky. (May 23, 2022) – The Waitsboro recreation area cut the ribbon on a wheelchair-accessible ramp attached to a day-use shelter, providing access to an area previously inaccessible to anyone in a wheelchair or needing walking assistance.
In his opening remarks, Lake Cumberland Resource Manager Jon Friedman explained to a small crowd the significance of the new ramp. “The Architectural Barriers Act, ABA was signed into law August 13, 1968, by Lyndon B. Johnson.” He continued, “It ensures people with disabilities have opportunities and access to federal facilities.”
Sandy Stigall, a Kentucky native, frequently visits the Waitsboro recreation area and has for many years. “My oldest son is 44, and we’ve come here since he was little.” For the past nine years, since a routine back surgery confined her to a wheelchair, Stigall and her husband park their car in the parking lot and eat lunch together, unable to enjoy the day use shelter for a lunchtime picnic. Until now.
Waitsboro recreation area is a long, narrow park. It sits in a position where the hill begins to incline toward the above bluff. The picnic area is centrally located between Burnside and Somerset and provides a beautiful respite for lunchtime visitors.
Stigall’s family came to visit her last summer, from Indiana. After realizing there was no way for Stigall to sit in the picnic area, one of her family members called Friedman, unbeknownst to her, inquiring if there was a way to make the area wheelchair accessible. He explained how much the family enjoyed this spot. He joked he would have to carry Stigall over his shoulder for her to enjoy the picnic area.
“Give us time, we’ll figure out something,” said Friedman.
Friedman has great confidence in his team. He knew they were up to any challenge. In early August, he asked them to put a plan together.
“Waitsboro affords few opportunities for enhanced access and is easily deemed infeasible,” said Samantha Godsey, a mechanical engineer at Laurel River and Cumberland Lakes. “We took the challenge on, making it easier for everyone to enjoy.”
Sometimes, the stars align and create the perfect conditions for change. This was the case for Waitsboro. With some hard work, dedication, and collaboration, the project would begin and conclude during the recreation off season.
Groundbreaking took place in September and construction began in October.
The collaboration between the Lake Cumberland resource manager’s office and the design team, AGT Engineering, construction company LTS Construction, LLC, and builder A&C Construction was seamless. They completed the project in December.
In his comments at the ceremony, Mayor Alan Keck applauded the Nashville District and community partners for their hard work and collaboration to do what’s right for the community.
Speaking directly to the Stigall family, he said, “Any time we can make one of our treasures more accessible it’s a win. My heart is to ensure we connect Lake Cumberland and the city of Somerset. I think this is just another project that’s gonna be good for our community, but [also] those coming to Somerset and Lake Cumberland in general.”
Additional attendees included: Pulaski Co Judge Executive – Elect Marshall Todd; Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority Chris Girdler; Stacey Matthews, caseworker for Congressman Harold Rogers, Somerset District Office; Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Michelle Allen.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)