Saturday, January 28, 2023

Beach Accessibility Mats: First Weeks Show Minor Issues and Simple Fixes

Beach Accessibility MatCoronado’s beach accessibility mats have been installed at Central Beach (near main lifeguard tower), North Beach (fire pit area), Dog Beach, and Glorietta Bay Park beach. It’s been two weeks now and I’ve been keeping an eye on the new beach mats and how they’re holding up.

Last week I checked out the fire pit and dog beach installations and saw damage most likely caused by hot embers. I also noticed that one side of the T at the end of the Central Beach mat was no longer there.beach mat damage

Art Valdivia, Coronado Public Services Supervisor, graciously and quickly provided answers. The side of the T shape was obstructing the rescue path for lifeguard vehicles. The other side has now been removed due to the high tides and being covered by sand. He shared with me that changes and rearrangements are done quickly and easily by the parks maintenance team and therefore as the tides change, so might the mat layouts that are impacted. At this point that would only be Central Beach.

As for the melted hole, Valdivia responded, “When people with ADA requirements were asked about how far back the mats should be placed, they said they should be as close as possible, otherwise what would be the purpose of being by the fire rings? We set the mats back about two feet. Typically, the mats can sustain embers and debris that is on fire, but this looks like it must have been a large piece of wood burning right on top of the mat—without proper response by the users. It created a small hole. We are considering using a harder deck material by the same vendor throughout the fire ring area, which will be able to withstand this type of scenario. We ask that fire ring users take precautions and keep their fires inside the fire rings.”

When asked how and when will the damage be repaired and at what cost per repair, he answered, “Repair will be minimal since the mats can be cut and spliced back together. Since the hole is small and does not impede or hinder travel by users, there are no repairs scheduled at this time. Since the material is non-woven, it will not rip or open up any further like other mats—but rather contain itself where the damage is done.”

As I walked this week, I saw tractors and a city employee shoveling around the mats at Central Beach. It seems the high tides have caused the sand beneath the mats to shift and cause an uneven surface. Again, I reached out to Art who explained the process and effort to maintain the mats. “The maintenance or extra work you noticed today is partly due to the rain and winds, which brought some high tide and strong surf. Once the heat kicks in the newly added maintenance will be crews blowing the sand off of the mats on a daily basis. Crews typically start blowing and washing beach entrances around 6:30am every morning, that’s unless we have chaos at the fire rings, massive amounts of kelp, massive amounts of litter washed ashore, or lots of illegal fires. The newly added mats added an extra 45 minutes a day to daily operations, but what you saw this morning added a couple of hours. Beach Division is readily available to take on these tasks and will stay on top of these tasks. Changes in the length or how far the mats go out to the shoreline will vary depending on tides; low tide will allow us to extend further into the shoreline and high tides will require us to tuck in the length. All easily done with back up parts that we have at our beach shed. Beach division will work diligently to maintain clear pathways on the mats.”

I think we can all agree the mats are needed, welcome and appreciated. I know the community is proud to have them and the intended users are particularly grateful. I was told the City’s Public Services – Beach Division strives to provide residents and tourists with the best possible experience. Richard Sandoval, Beach Division Lead, worked hard to get these mats in place and will no doubt to continue taking pride in his job to maintain them.

Chris Kelly
Chris Kelly
Chris is a native San Diegan who has had business ties to Coronado from when the bridge still had a toll. She vowed to herself one day she would make the island her home. Chris has been an entrepreneur for over two decades as a business owner and business/life strategist and coach. Her work has been seen in magazines, blogs, The Seattle Times and The Huffington Post.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]