BETA is proud to announce that the recent Needham Reservoir Accessible Trail project has received a Merit Award from the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (RIASLA). The goal of the project was to transform an existing foot path around the Town of Needham’s reservoir into a vibrant, fully accessible trail while preserving the surrounding wetlands. BETA’s design improved the path by creating direct access to the water’s edge, facilitating an eco-friendly approach to the trail’s existing uses (including walking, fishing, and ice skating), and removing two wells and replacing them with wetland restoration plantings.
Improving mobility and accessibility was essential to the Town’s vision for the trail. BETA’s design included a continuous 6-foot-wide path made of stone, wood boardwalk, or cement concrete; longitudinal grades below the 5% required by ADA; and wood and post rope rails skirting the trail. Various creative and educational elements to engage visitors of all ages include nature-themed nodes that highlight the sights, sounds, or smells of the trail and wood benches containing back and armrests.
With BETA’s aide, the Town was able to reshape this heavily used, yet functionally insufficient path into an amenity that caters to all of the Town’s residents. The importance of successfully serving the community was not lost on this year’s RISASLA awards jury who noted that, “the visually impaired, wheel accessible users, and children were all highly addressed and accommodated.” Congratulations to the Town and the project team on the recognition of this successful project!