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Bal Harbour’s special wheelchair to help disabled enjoy beach

BAL HARBOUR

A wheelchair that can travel over sand will allow those with disabilities better access to Bal Harbour’s beach.

BY RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to the Miami Herald

In an effort to make the sand and surf accessible to all beachgoers, Bal Harbour has purchased mobile equipment to benefit people with disabilities.

The village has purchased a specially equipped wheelchair for the village’s nearly mile-long stretch of beach.

The chair will be available by reservation only.

Mayor Jean Rosenfield says the equipment is significant to the village.

“We are constantly looking for ways to make our beach more enjoyable for everyone who visits,” she said.

Compared to a traditional wheelchair, the beach wheelchair’s tires are wider, which keeps it from sinking into the sand.

Bal Harbour purchased the wheelchair for about $2,300. A third of that amount was paid for by proceeds from disabled parking violations. The rest came from tax dollars earmarked for beach beautification projects, said Jay Smith, village director of community outreach.

The village received the wheelchair, which is a stainless steel De-Bug Wheelchair manufactured by Deming Designs, earlier this month.

It is similar to those used on Miami Beach and at family attractions like Disney World, said Smith.

Dina Cellini, a Bal Harbour resident, said the new beach wheelchair is significant.

“It gives me great pleasure to know that our public beaches can now be enjoyed in a much more meaningful way by individuals in wheelchairs, be they residents, nonresidents or tourists visiting Bal Harbour,” said Cellini.

The village has made other recent improvements to the beach area. The council recently approved bicycle riding on the beach’s hard roadway area. Earlier this year, the council installed life ring stations along the walkway, which helped save the lives of two swimmers in November.

Currently, the village is taking reservations for the wheelchair up to a week in advance for one-day blocks. For reservations, call 305-866-8597.

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