Galveston creates new decking to make beaches accessible to everyone

GALVESTON, Texas – It’s not just about traffic and construction projects in our What’s Driving Houston initiative. We are also focused on accessibility to popular destinations in our area. Galveston is a big one.

Galveston Island is aiming to make the beach experience accessible to all by adding new access decking to Stewart Beach. To visit the beach and access the beach regardless of your mobility is the driving force behind this program, which put this new decking in place. It’s a game-changing amenity, especially for those who use a wheelchair.

KPRC 2 Anavid Reyes spoke with Kayla Goldwitz, who is a beach lover and refuses to allow life to get in her way of enjoying the things she loves the most.

“Being a little kid, you know it was always fun to come to the beach, but in 2014 I was in a car accident that paralyzed me from the chest down, and Galveston is something that I’ve always wanted to keep part of my life,” said Goldwitz.

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol and the Galveston Park Board of Trustees want to share the Gulf of Mexico and the beach experience with as many people as possible.

“I have tried getting on the sand before. My chair sinks very quickly, in the sand, if it’s not packed. It’s pretty much impossible to get on the sand,” according to Goldwitz.

Goldwitz describes her experience accessing the beach, which is not the best considering the difficulty of traveling on the sand and saltwater mixed with her wheelchair.

This is where the general manager of Galveston Island Parks, Vince Lorefice, comes in. According to Lorefice, new access decking has always been on top of their to-do list.

“It’s the combination of the wheelchairs and the access decking that really sets up apart... so the moby chairs with the larger inflatable wheels will actually glide over the sand, and will not sink in... and they’re equipped with the inflatable handles, so they can go in the water as well.”

The beach wheelchairs are free and can be picked up at:

  • Galveston’s Stewart Beach
  • East Beach
  • Dellanera RV Park

These beach wheelchairs have always been in place, but now with the new access decking, it’s game-changing for beach access.

“Just because it’s not the same, doesn’t mean it’s not just as good. I love being out here and even though I’m in a wheelchair. It’s still technically the same to me because they have this mobility aid and it makes easy simple and worth it,” said Goldwitz.

Right now, this new access decking is only available at Stewart Beach, but they are working on expanding and providing this type of access to their neighboring beaches. For now, Galveston Island Parks is working to secure some grants to buy more beach wheelchairs and create additional ADA parking spaces for East Beach. Find more details on the program here.

About the Author:

Traffic expert and What’s Driving Houston reporter, proud Latina, lover of animals, food and our beautiful planet.