William O’Brien State Park in Marine on St. Croix could soon be more accessible for all.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources commissioner made a pitch Tuesday for a $10 million plan to harden picnic areas, widen shower stalls and make other improvements at the park.
The plan would make O’Brien, one of the state’s most visited parks, capable of hosting a weekend stay for someone in a wheelchair, according to Commissioner Tom Landwehr’s office.
It’s time, he said, to make at least one or two state parks accessible for the disabled.
The push has support from the Minnesota Council on Disability, which has been advising the DNR on where money would be best spent to make the park system more accessible. Other state parks targeted for improvements include Fort Snelling, Minneopa and Nerstrand-Big Woods.
The 2018 bonding bill has $2 million set aside for accessibility improvements at state parks so far, enough to improve the bathroom building at the Lake Alice day-use area at William O’Brien and renovate the campground shower building and vault toilets. Gov. Mark Dayton’s $10 million request — a portion of his $171 million capital budget request for the DNR — would promote access to the fishing pier, amphitheater, picnic shelter, rental area, beach and make other improvements.
A pair of bills in the House and Senate, meanwhile, ask for $20 million in bonding money to make accessibility renovations at all four state parks.