Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

"In the presence of nature a wild delight runs through man." - Goethe, German philosopher

Ten years ago the students and staff of Eagle Academy Alternative School, the Egg Harbor Township Environmental Commission and plethora of school partners completed an ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) accessible solar powered irrigation pump-house/compost toilet and pavilion at the EHT Arboretum site. This unique project was initiated by a request from a local wheelchair-bound citizen who wanted to enjoy the beauty of nature but was limited in mobility by her wheelchair.

Proactive efforts in securing competitive grants with a mixture of private foundation, federal, state and county funds as well as local donations helped to accomplish this community effort, while saving EHT taxpayers the $60,000 price tag.

During the past decade, Egg Harbor Township governmental and local volunteers and organizations has grown the EHT Nature Park into a delightful respite destination for hundreds of able bodied local citizens who daily enjoy biking, hiking and canoeing while soaking in the calm beauty of the woods. However, it is unfortunate the (ADA) accessible solar-powered irrigation pump-house (160 square-foot) compost toilet attached to the ramp, and open air pavilion overlook has been locked up by our public works department and inaccessible for use by our local handicapped citizens. If during a visit, a wheelchair bound citizens needs to use a bathroom they must get in a car and travel a half mile to a four square-foot portable toilet facility adjacent to the parting lot. Not acceptable!

This beautiful user-friendly building was designed and constructed for all of our EHT citizens. As previously mentioned, it includes the shade provided by the existing cedar shake roof pavilion/observation deck overlook, the relief of having a clean, safe, and (ADA) accessible bathroom and the fresh, clean drinking water provided by renewable solar powered panels and pump. It is a shame to waste such an incredibly facility.

If the township is concerned about vandalism, they can look to the neighboring community of Somers Point. Its' public works department opens their handicapped accessible bathrooms at Kennedy Park in the morning and the police department locks them up at the end of the day in order to monitor the facilities.

It is now time to provide our local wheelchair bound citizens with the opportunity to utilize our beautiful park to the fullest extent as it was originally intended through the unencumbered use of our handicapped user-friendly bathrooms adjacent to the open air pavilion overlook.

Bob Zentmeyer

Egg Harbor Township

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