State pursues improved Hampton Beach disability access

A rendering from the 2022 feasibility study shows the potential for construction of a new pier within the southern portion of Hampton Beach State Park, the favored locations among stakeholders. 

A rendering from the 2022 feasibility study shows the potential for construction of a new pier within the southern portion of Hampton Beach State Park, the favored locations among stakeholders.  Screenshot

By HADLEY BARNDOLLAR

New Hampshire Bulletin

Published: 02-26-2024 1:26 PM

After the construction of a new pier off Hampton Beach State Park stalled in the Legislature last session, the state is moving forward with a $150,000 feasibility study on improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

In October 2022, the Hampton Beach Area Commission completed an initial feasibility study around the potential for a new pier to serve the general public, recreational uses, and perhaps most notably, provide access to the water over the beach for the elderly and those with disabilities and mobility impairments. Three possible locations were ultimately recommended.

Last legislative session, Sen. Kevin Avard, a Nashua Republican, filed a bill that would have allocated $22 million to locate, design, permit, and construct the new pier. After undergoing amendments in the Senate, the bill was tabled for possible inclusion in the biennial state budget, which instead allocated the $150,000 for a further feasibility study focused on access at the beach for people with disabilities.

The state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will contract with Portland, Maine-based GEI Consultants, the same construction engineering company that completed the first study.

A final report is due at the end of October, and GEI Consultants is expected to: assess the accessibility of public facilities at Hampton Beach State Park; identify and make recommendations for facilities, programs, and amenities to improve accessibility; ensure the recommendations are consistent with flood resiliency; estimate the cost for selected improvements; and hold between five and eight public meetings with an advisory committee.

GEI Consultants will also have to take into account wildlife and environmental impacts for recommended locations.

Currently, the Hampton Beach patrol office by the Seashell Stage area provides beach wheelchairs for public use, and accessible beach mats are installed seasonally at four locations. There is also a ramp and viewing platform at 18th Street near the North Beach area, and a concrete walkway located at South Beach.

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