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Reel-izing one man’s dream: Handicap-accessible fishing platform embodies how small efforts can have substantial impacts | News

Reel-izing one man’s dream: Handicap-accessible fishing platform embodies how small efforts can have substantial impacts | News



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Aaron Anderson, left, and Al Walker stand on the Jim Barclay Memorial Handicap Accessible Fishing Platform, which is located right along the shore of Sunset Park on County Road A. As he was dying, Barclay wished he could have gone down there to fish one final time. 




Near the bridge and right along the shore of Sunset Park on County Road A is a handicap-accessible fishing platform open to all that was built last year.

The story behind this fishing platform, however, is a display of community effort spearheaded by local resident Al Walker.

Walker noted previous changes to the area surrounding Sunset Park made it difficult for a friend of his, Jim Barclay, to keep fishing because of age and instability. Walker, who was determined to make this right, promised Barclay he would do something about this.

“He was dying, and he said he wished he could have gone down there fishing one more time,” Walker recalled. “And I said, ‘Jim, I’ll do my best to promise you that someday there will be a platform down there for people that they can fish and have access to that.’”

According to Walker, a combination of money left over from Barclay’s estate, various donations and volunteering all were involved in the eventual construction of the platform last fall.



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Aaron Anderson, left, and Al Walker take in Big Green Lake from the new fishing platform.




The platform, Walker noted, is used by handicapped and non-handicapped folks alike.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of people using it,” Walker said. “We’ve had a lot of compliments about it. We’ve had people saying it’s about time something was done.”

The platform recently was donated to Green Lake County, which added a pathway that leads to the platform. Walker added the county is “supposed to put some handicap parking down there.”

In addition to being accessible for the handicap population, the new platform may be valuable to more than one demographic.

“Green Lake is a beautiful lake,” Walker said. “It’s a big lake. But unless you have a boat, the accessibility to fishing is minimal. There’s not a lot of places where you can go and catch fish.”

Walker hopes the platform and surrounding area will continue to be improved, something that may be important for safety.



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Al Walker hopes this passage will be paved in the future to better allow for wheelchair accessibility. He also hopes that the beginning of the passage will feature handicap accessibility signs.




“Hopefully, they [the county] will enhance the area around that pier to the north and to the south,” Walker said. “All it’s going to take is some smaller rock put on top of the bigger rocks to get it there so that you can walk closer to the edge of the water.”

Walker shared a story about a man who recently experienced struggles with previous infrastructure, or a lack thereof. He shared his plan to make a handicap-accessible fishing platform with the man and the fellow, like many others, quickly jumped onboard with the idea.

“I was down there one day in late August. … I was working on it [the platform] and a car pulled up and a gentleman walked over and he came up to me and he said ‘What are you doing?’ And I told him what we were doing,” Walker recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, I was down here the other day and I had a nice walleye. I got it up to the edge of the rocks. … I couldn’t get close enough to net the fish.’ … Well, the next day I’m there working on it and the car pulls up and the guy comes walking over to me and he hands me a $100 bill. And I said, ‘What is this for?’ He says, ‘I want to be part of this.’”

For Walker, it’s important that the platform be referred to as more than just a handicapped platform and that while one use of the platform is to help those who are handicapped, it is not the only use of the platform.



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A new fishing platform with handicap accessibility is located along the shore of Sunset Park on County Road A.




“We don’t call it a handicap pier; we call it a fishing platform with handicap accessibility,” Walker said. “If we put it as a handicap pier, people would go down there and think, ‘Well, I’m not handicapped; I can’t use that pier.’ I want people to use the pier. I would hope that people would have enough common sense that if somebody in a wheelchair came down there that they would move over and give them room to fish. I’ve driven by there and I’ve seen quite a few people there. I’ve caught fish off of it already myself. I’m in my 70s. I tell people, I laugh and say, ‘You know, I got a vested interest in this thing. It may come a time when that’s the only place I get to go to fish.’”

Walker thanked a number of key contributors to the handicap accessible fishing platform project, which included Chuck Hurley of The Dry Dock, Jason Pollesch of Pollesch Excavating, Drexel Building Supply, Carew Concrete, RHPro LLC Custom Design and Fabrication, Chris Alvin of Chris Alvin Concrete, Jeff Washkovick of R&R Wash Materials Inc., Paul Schwandt of Advanced Engine Concepts Inc., Green Lake city officials and the Jim Barclay Memorial Fund.

Walker also thanked members of Walleyes For Tomorrow for their time and efforts.

While Barclay was never able to make use of the handicap accessible fishing platform, Walker noted he kept his promise and that the pier is something for which many people should reap the benefits.

“I made a promise to a friend, and I was able to keep that promise,” Walker said. “It was something that unfortunately he never got to use, but it’s going to benefit a lot of people.”

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  • June 24, 2023