FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) — The town of Fairhaven’s picturesque town beach on West Island offers a stunning view of Buzzards Bay with Cape Cod beaches seen on the horizon.

However, it requires you to walk down a boardwalk that carves through protected beach grass — a trip that might be a bit difficult for those with physical handicaps.

That’s why the town came up with a solution: a beach wheelchair and 500 feet of special mat that allows them to roll with ease onto the sand and all the way to the ocean.

Fairhaven’s Commission on Disability is comprised of seven to nine members who are dedicated to ensuring that people of all abilities have access to everything the seaside town offers.

Marcus Ferro, the chairman of the commission, said it was just last year that a committee member pitched the idea for the beach wheelchair and mat. 

“She had brought up the need for a beach wheelchair to better access the beach, better enjoy the beach. So that’s basically how we got the ball rolling on it,” he said.

Ferro pitched the idea to the Department of Public Works. Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said without much fuss, the proposal was funded by their capital expenditures in the 2023 Fiscal Year budget.

By July 2022, the chair, which resembles a beach lounge chair with large plastic wheels, was sitting in the beach parking lot on Fir Street, ready for use. About 100 feet of the 500 feet of special mat was laid out along the path to the beach.

But, Furtado says, no one used it.

“I assume because this isn’t that common, maybe people didn’t know that we had it, and we wanted to get the word out that we do have it, for folks that want to come to the beach that have some type of handicap,” Furtado said.

Fast forward to this summer, and the town is trying to get the word out about this opportunity for everyone to have access to their beautiful beach. Furtado said they posted on social media about the chair and mat. A lifeguard said two people have since used it. 

“Just let one of the gate attendees know and we provide access to them,” Furtado said. “Actually, we’re going to be donating another one in the not-too-distant future, so even less of a reason to have to call ahead.”