A wheelchair-accessible kayak launch is now open at Mercer Park. The village hopes to complete a similar launch at Community Park by the end of July. (Photo by Steve Darcangelo)
“If anyone ever had any anxiety about using a kayak, it’s usually about getting in and out of the water,” said Steve Darcangelo, Baldwinsville village engineer. “If you’re not athletic, it can be comical to watch.”
That anxiety can now be assuaged — the village of Baldwinsville has installed an easy-access kayak launch at Mercer Park.
Thanks to a $37,000 grant from the New York State Canal Corporation, the Mercer Park kayak launch opened quietly last month. The village announced the project in April 2016.
“The word is getting out and some people are using it,” said Darcangelo.
“Mercer Park provides very nice kayaking on the upstream side of Lock 24 — in theory, all the way up to Cross Lake,” Darcangelo said.
The village also received a grant to install a similar kayak launch at Community Park, which Clarke called a “little hidden gem” of Baldwinsville. Darcangelo said he hopes to have the Community Park kayak launch operational by the end of the month.
“Weather conditions have been holding us back,” Darcangelo said of the installation.
The arrival of the kayak launch, which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, is also a step in the village’s goal to make Mercer Park more accessible to people who use wheelchairs. “We’ve tried to make it as accessible to them as possible,” Darcangelo said.
Darcangelo said the village has rolled out about one accessibility improvement each year for the last three years, including wheelchair-friendly picnic tables, a concrete path to the grill and a path with a curb at the fishing area.
Also on the village’s wishlist for Mercer Park is a platform swing for kids who use wheelchairs. Darcangelo said the village has been in talks with the Baldwinsville Rotary Club about funding for the swing.
Darcangelo said he also has contacted Camillus Kayak Shop for a possible collaboration.
Clarke said the kayak launch is another attraction for both residents and visitors of Baldwinsville.
“We’re making it so people can say, ‘I live in Baldwinsville and there’s a lot to do here,’” Clarke said.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.