Pasco is going to add a path to provide year-round equal access to Sacajawea Heritage Trail near Chiawana Park.
Pete Rieke, the first paraplegic to summit Mount Rainier, asked the Pasco City Council last month to reopen a gate at Road 96 that was locked after Chiawana Park closed for the season Oct. 1.
Rieke, who uses a wheelchair and lives near the park, said the gate provides the only handicapped access near his home to the 22-mile trail that loops through Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.
The council decided Monday to add a paved path outside the park boundaries on Schuman Lane near Road 96, which will cost about $5,500.
The council had directed the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission to look at the issue. The board recommended the city not pursue the path, citing concerns about aggravating existing parking issues on the Schuman Lane.
But City Manager Gary Crutchfield said staff can address parking concerns by adding a border along the road.
Adding the paved path would require Army Corps of Engineers approval, which will likely take several months, Crutchfield said. In the meantime, the gate at Chiawana Park will remain open to preserve access.
Pasco saved Chiawana Park from being closed when it took it over from Franklin County several years ago, said Mayor Matt Watkins.
Adding the asphalt trail is a reasonable compromise to preserve year-round Americans with Disabilities Act access at that location, he said.
Councilman Al Yenney said the $5,000 for the new trail is a small amount in proportion with all the city spends on recreation,
"This shows that government works," he said about the decision.
Rieke, who attended the meeting, said the path is a good solution and "allows equal access."
-- The council approved the 2011 operating and capital projects budgets.
It approved the $30.4 million operating budget unanimously.
The council also approved the capital projects budget in a 5-2 vote, with councilmen Tom Larsen and Bob Hoffmann dissenting.
The capital projects budget includes funding for 50 projects, including 17 new ones.
And it budgets $6.9 million for new projects and added money for ongoing projects.