KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. ( WAVY) — Officials in Kill Devil Hills on Monday will launch its first fully handicapped beach access.
New improvements to the beach access include a wooden handicap ramp as well a several fixed position mats and roll out mats to accommodate wheelchair entry onto the beach.
The new wooden ramp was built to allow wheelchairs a quick and easier path from the parking lot to the beach access.
Along with the ramp, the town has also purchased three additional beach wheelchairs for anyone to borrow and enjoy the water line.
According to the town’s Facebook page, the improvements are dedicated in honor of former KDH Commissioner William “Bill” M. Pitt for his “strong community involvement and devotion in Kill Devil Hills.”
It took Kill Devil Hills years to hammer out a plan to make the sand more accessible to those with disabilities.
“This is really important,” said Ben Battaile with Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue. “This is huge for the Outer Banks in general.”
The Ocean Bay Public Access point is now truly accessible. The town added a longer ramp and put mats down to help those in wheelchairs reach the sand. The changes cost the town $60,000.
“I think for some people have access to this beach in this way is going to be life changing,” added Mayor Sheila Davies. “It is incredible investment. It is endless returns on an investment.”
In addition to changes on the sand, the town bought four beach wheelchairs.
“There has been questions about how do you get a wheelchair on the beach,” said Davies. “Well these wide wheels are really critical here to keep the base stable.”
This is first in the Outer Banks. The hope is that this plan will roll to other points not only in the Outer Banks, but also up and down the coast.
“We have inquiries now from Virginia Beach, Ocean City, Maryland, and the beaches in Delaware,” Davies added. “I really hope this is the spread of something bigger.”
Lifeguards believe this is a way saving lives without leaving the sand.
“Our main job is to put smiles on people’s faces,” Battaile said. “Life saving is part of it, but our job is to make it fun for them and to make it safe.”
Anyone can enjoy those beach wheelchairs. All they have to do is call ahead to the Kill Devil Hills Ocean Bay access reserve them. The number is 252-480-0080.
A grand opening is scheduled for Monday, May 13, at 10 a.m.