NEW MANCHESTER - Tomlinson Run State Park is taking another step toward full handicap accessibility with plans to improve trails, shelters and group campsites.
In a recent memorandum to Hancock County commissioners, park Assistant Superintendent Jesse Mestrovic said the park already has handicap-accessible resources but needs to develop more.
"We're asking, 'Where are the areas where we can improve?'" Mestrovic said. "One of our goals is to make sure that everyone, including visitors with disabilities, has access to the natural and cultural wonders that make up Tomlinson Run State Park."
TRAIL BENCHES — Jesse Mestrovic, assistant superintendent of Tomlinson Run State Park, sits on a bench recently installed along the handicap-accessible Jody Hulka Trail. Mestrovic is raising funds to extend the trail and make other accessibility improvements in the park.
Mestrovic is preparing a grant application to the West Virginia Department of Transportation and hoping to receive funding to lengthen the handicap-accessible Jody Hulka Trail, which follows the South Fork of Tomlinson Run from Mineral Springs to the miniature golf course.
Mestrovic wants to extend the trail to an area known as "the tubes," at the beginning of Tomlinson Run Lake, which would improve safety by getting walkers off the road.
The matching grant would require some local funding from the Tomlinson Run State Park Foundation or other private sources, Mestrovic said.
Areas in the park that are already handicap accessible include Shelters No. 1 and No. 4, both of which have accessible parking and accessible restroom facilities. Shelter No. 4 has an accessible water fountain and park bench, while Shelter No. 1 has an accessible playground.
Also accessible, Mestrovic said, are the park's:
Swimming pool, including a ramp, an extra wheelchair and accessible restrooms.
Campground, including an asphalt pad for Sites 4 and 24, an accessible picnic table and an accessible fire ring. It also has three camping cabins and four yurts (permanent tents) that have a ramp to each.
Group camp, including one cabin with an asphalt pad and an accessible picnic table, and a new playground.
Mestrovic said areas requiring improvement, in addition to the Jody Hulka Trail, are Tomlinson Run Lake, Shelter No. 2 and the Group Camp.
Access to the lake is limited for people with disabilities, Mestrovic said. "I want a wheelchair-access fishing pier in the park. There really isn't accessibility for fishing in the park," he said.
Both the Group Camp and Shelter No. 2 need paved paths for greater accessibility. What's more, Shelter No. 2 needs a ramp from the parking lot to the shelter, he said.
Notwithstanding the improvements that need to be made, Mestrovic said, "I honestly think (the park) is slightly more accessible than other state parks. We're not located in the steep mountains like in southern West Virginia."
Anyone interested in making a donation to the accessibility project should contact Mestrovic at (304) 564-3651.