CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The wheelchair accessible mats that have been laid out each summer season for years at Carolina Beach will most likely not be returning for the rest of 2020.
The discussion has continued this week as to whether the wheelchair-accessible mats will be put back down in Carolina Beach in the near future. The decision ultimately hangs in the balance now after it was stated the mats were not in compliance with location and size.
Senator Harper Peterson says it’s something the community wants and needs.
“I think it’s great, it’s an opportunity for every citizen to enjoy our our beaches,” Sen. Peterson said. “That includes our ocean, our public places and Ocean Cure should be really commended for that.”
Ocean Cure first laid down the mats in May 2018 and is now being told the layout could pose a threat to nesting sea turtles and sea birds.
The message from the North Carolina Wildlife Commission said they will only allow a six by six foot mat.
Ocean Cure Founder Kevin Murphy says that is not realistic as they look for more clarification.
“We kept it down until we could get more clarification and we really haven’t got clarification,” Murphy said. “We’ve just been kind of told like hey you’re out of compliance, you really need to get it under compliance. We just felt like six foot by six foot is not going to work. So, we need to make a big change at the highest level possible.”
Peterson says while there are certainly still things to iron out, he is confident both sides can come together for a solution on the issue sooner rather than later.
“Right now they are putting together some guidelines to make this happen, where the opportunity for the disabled is availed and we protect our endangered species,” Peterson said. “So, I think we can reach a happy medium and I’m happy to say that they want to also.”
WWAY did reach out to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission for comment, but did not hear back.
Ocean Cure says they hope to have the mats back down and ready for use by next summer.