Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the county will receive a $25,000 donation to advance its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible fishing pier initiative at Babcock County Park.

The park’s lake access site is one of the most highly used on the Madison chain of lakes, but its existing accessible fishing pier is in need of replacement. With the help of this donation, Dane County will be able to install a new accessible pier to improve universal access and shore fishing opportunities for all people.

“Dane County is committed to providing residents and visitors of all ages and abilities the opportunity to access our incredible outdoor spaces,” Parisi said. “I want to thank Sally Wilmeth and Terry Geurkink for their generous donation and continued support of Dane County Parks.”

Babcock County Park’s boat landing hosts several annual fishing events each year for veterans and persons with disabilities. Dane County Parks has been working with the Foundation for Dane County Parks, Madison Fishing Expo and Access Ability Wisconsin on preliminary planning for an accessible fishing pier, kayak landing and boat loading assistance station, along with parking improvements at Babcock County Park.

Wilmeth and Geurkink’s donation, made in memory of their children, Jenni and Kyle, will help fund this project.

In Parisi’s 2019 budget, he announced a multiyear program to create accessible shoreline fishing at county parks. This initiative set out to make sure everyone had the opportunity to enjoy being near the water by creating fishing piers that are fully ADA compliant.

A number of Dane County’s piers already offer these accommodations, but staff have identified 10 additional locations where improvements can be made to better connect Dane County residents and visitors with the joys of being outdoors.

Work to advance the county’s ADA accessible fshing pier initiative has already begun at Salmo Pond, Babcock and Lussier county parks.

Parisi chose to double the program’s funding to $200,000 in his 2020 budget so the county can continue its push to increase access to its outdoor spaces. A resolution authorizing the $25,000 donation is expected to be approved by the Dane County Board in the coming weeks.

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