People in wheelchairs can finally safely go fishing along the outlet of Messalonskee Stream thanks to a $25,000 handicap accessible fishing platform that was built at Snow Pond Dam adjoining the Oakland Hydro Station in August of this year.
Messalonskee Stream Hydro, which is a Boston-based division of Essex Hydro Associates, finished setting up the accessible platform on Thursday, September 14, allowing people who use wheelchairs to fish securely at the outlet of Messalonskee Lake.
Messalonskee Stream Hydro had been planning to assess the recreational needs of individuals with disabilities in the area. Moreover, the company even had to modify the access in a suitable way.
The platform is in accordance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and is now accessible to the public for use.
Back in the 1980s, the hydro power company got its first federal license for its facilities. The license enforced the company to “continue to evaluate the need for fishing access” for individuals with disabilities, according to Elise Anderson, a regulatory analyst at Essex Hydro.
"The Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries suggested this location in Oakland," Anderson added.
"They (The Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries) had seen there's a lot of anglers there anyways and so due to the way the site is being used, it would be a really good place to have a handicap accessible platform," she noted.
Moreover, the place will also feature a handicap preferred parking place. "We're working on getting the signs put up right now," Anderson said.
The company has been drawing up a report regarding the recreational access at the Snow Pond Dam, which is situated at the north end of Messalonskee Lake every five years. However, this past year, they were notified about a need for the fishing platform.
The platform extrudes over the stream alongside the dam and features a single low piece of railing to allow those who use wheelchairs to get a fishing rod over it and into the stream.
The company has been hard at works on the project for nearly a year and a half, according to Mike Joslyn, who works as an operator for Messalonskee Stream Hydro and helped construct the platform.
For individuals who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there will be an allocated parking place in the lot at the side of the stream, according to Joslyn. The idea is to cascade reprocessed asphalt pavement on top of the lot in a bid to allow wheelchair users to get from the parking place to the platform without breaking much of a sweat.
After spilling the asphalt, they will be placing signs at the new fishing spot, according to Joslyn. The area is ideal for fishing, Joslyn noted after catching a Northern pike after work on Wednesday, September 15.
Messalonskee Stream Hydro has four hydro stations in the region including the Rice Rips Station in Waterville, the Union Gas Station farther downstream, the Oakland Hydro Station across from the Town Office, and Snow Pond Dam at the outlet of Messalonskee Stream.
Although the company has not set up a fishing platform in another place, it manages trail counters along the Messalonskee Trail in Oakland, a canoe portage in Benton, and a floating pier in Waterville, Joslyn said.
(Image Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region/Wikimedia Commons)