Richland County’s extension of the Riverwalk along the lower Saluda River will greatly expand recreational opportunities for all Midlands residents. Unfortunately, some paddlers seek to lock all others out of this beautiful area — including the disabled (“Feud boiling up over Saluda River boardwalk,” Dec 1).
Visit the Riverwalk, and you can see people in wheelchairs, strollers and the elderly in perfect harmony with the fastest runners. I do not know a single runner who has objected to the presence of disabled people, but apparently some paddlers are different.
Why should only the most physically fit people be entitled to enjoy this beautiful stretch of the river? Paddlers might have an argument if the proposed boardwalk blocked their access, but it does not. The argument is that the stretch of river will not be quite as beautiful if there is a boardwalk — which will open up this area to everyone, whether they are fast runners or in wheelchairs or strollers.
Even if one agrees that the boardwalk will not be attractive (a questionable assumption), it is such a minimal intrusion upon the overall view that the increased access to all clearly is more valuable.
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I believe that the great majority of paddlers are not biased against the disabled. I urge everyone to work together to promote what should be a universal goal of greater access for everyone to nature.
J. Leeds Barroll IV