Pete Rieke would like Pasco to provide him with access to the Sacajawea Heritage Trail.
Rieke, the first paraplegic to summit Mount Rainier, asked the Pasco City Council on Monday to reopen a gate at Road 96 that provides access to Chiawana Park.
The gate was locked when the park closed for the season. But Rieke, who uses a wheelchair and lives near the park, said the gate provides the only Americans with Disabilities Act access to the trail near his home. The 22-mile path loops through Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.
Mayor Matt Watkins said it's not rational to leave the gate at Road 96 open when Chiawana Park is closed during the winter.
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Councilman Al Yenney said locking the gate doesn't close the park because those who do not need ADA access still can access the park using dirt paths.
The dirt paths aren't official access points to Chiawana Park, said City Manager Gary Crutchfield.
And leaving the gate open could increase the chances of vandalism, said Rick Terway, city administrative and community services director. The city does not have staff to maintain the park during the winter.
"Locking that gate impacts disabled access to the park significantly while not making any dent in the security," Rieke said. He said he provided the council with a petition to reopen the gate that included about 50 signatures.
Pasco took over the park from Franklin County several years ago when the county could no longer afford to pay for the park, Watkins said.
The council is sending the issue to the parks commission. But in the meantime, the council agreed to reopen the gate and post a sign that says the gate is only open for accessing the Sacajawea Heritage Trail.
The city needs to leave the gate open while the issue works its way through the government process, Yenney said. To keep the gate closed and deny Rieke access would be an "injustice," he said.
The city could have a proposal ready for a final decision in about six weeks, Crutchfield said.
The city council unanimously approved a 2011 levy rate of $1.97 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $197 a year for a $100,000 home.
The city will collect about $6.1 million in property taxes in 2011. In 2010, about $5.9 million was collected, and the levy rate was about $2 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The increase in property tax revenue is from new construction. The city council decided not to take the 1 percent increase in property tax revenue allowed under state law.