Support, Opposition Voiced In Plans To Make OKC Park Handicapped Accessible

Wednesday, January 2nd 2013, 6:22 pm
By: Karl Torp

Majestic Martin Nature Park in NW OKC gives people a closer look at nature, but the ambiance means obstacles for quadriplegic Jack McMahon.

"You'll see there's no way I can do that trail," says McMahon as he navigates Martin's trails in his wheelchair.

McMahon and his group Wilderness Matters are raising about $1.5 million to make Martin more accessible for those with disabilities.

"We come here because we love nature, not to do it any injury," says McMahan.

McMahon tells News 9 trails wouldn't be widened or repaved with asphalt. Instead a natural, firmer material would be put down to increase stability. Viewing platforms would also become more accessible.

McMahon also hopes park goers will be able to go on self-guided tours and get a description of each station on their smartphone through a free app.

Neighbors and some park goers are worried about how the changes will affect the overall feel of the park. Groups like "Friends of Martin Nature Park" oppose the idea of accessible trails in secluded areas of the park where there aren't any trails now.

"There are some people who can't climb Mount Everest. There are some people who can't go on certain trails in Yellowstone," says Janna Gau with Friends of Martin Nature Park. "It's important for Martin Nature Park to keep pathways and trails in their current condition."

OKC City Council is expected to take up the issue next week. McMahon hopes to be soon be able to move forward on the planning stages of the project.