Ken Fredgren, chairman of the Reston Accessibility Committee, told a story about trying to use his mobility scooter to get to the park with his family several years ago. The gravel lot kept him out.
“My scooter sank in the gravel, and my family had to hoist me out and carry me from the gravel, and then laboriously pull the scooter out of the gravel,” he said. “The pavilion is still up a grass slope too steep for any mobility device [and] the pavilion floor is mulch, as is the surface of the tot lot with its two swings.”
The Pony Barn Pavilion is among RAC’s list of area properties that need attention to make them more accessible to the disabled. On its website, RAC says the park needs accessible pedestrian signals, an access aisle and an accessible route from the parking lot to the picnic pavilion. It also says the grill, water fountain, picnic table and toilet facilities need to be made accessible.
“Please do create accessible parking, an accessible route or routes, and replace mulch surfaces so neighbors and guests with disabilities can use Pony Barn Park,” Fredgren said. “Accommodating our fellow residents and their guests is doable, right and just.”
Another resident, Audrey Diggs, spoke about a park she has been unable to visit even though she’s lived across the street from it for about 15 years.
“I went through one time and got stuck in the gravel,” she said. “I got more adventurous when my son came along, and I got a bigger scooter that I thought could do it … and I flipped myself. I was laying on my side.”
Diggs said she and her son have to travel to Hunters Woods Park or Hunters Woods Elementary School so he can play.
“It would be nice to be able to let him play with his buddies and be able to go down and interact and see what’s going on and use it,” she said. “I hear people singing and I hear people talking, but I can’t get down there.”
A statement from Michele “Cookie” Hymer Blitz, Hunter Mill District representative on Fairfax Area Disability Services Board, was also read. Blitz said updated to the park are much-needed and should be done in a timely fashion.
“I have always been very impressed with the Reston community’s reputation and behavior regarding progressive, healthy living,” read Blitz’s statement. “I am disappointed and quite surprised that long overdue, relatively simple changes to this area are being pushed aside.”
A pavilion replacement for Pony Barn Park was first approved by RA in 2013, at a cost of $30,000. RA later approved, as part of the 2016-17 capital projects budget, $350,000 for a full-scale renovation project. That money has been locked up since last July, however, when RA put major capital projects on hold in the wake of the controversy over the Lake House purchase.
Screenshot via Reston Association YouTube channel