A Handicap-Accessible path leads to a platform with a bench that overlooks Middle Farms Pond

By Faith Coolidge

Can you imagine wanting to enjoy the beauty of Middle Farms Pond but being unable to do so because of a mobility issue? A wonderful addition to the H.L Ferguson Museum’s Land Trust Nature Trails now makes it possible for everyone to enjoy the beauty of this special location on the island without the necessity of walking on a trail to do so.

Thanks to a joint effort between the H.L. Ferguson Museum’s Land Trust and the Fishers Island School, a wheelchair-accessible ramp has been constructed leading to a platform that overlooks Middle Farms Pond. Located on Treasure Pond Road, which is entered from the Main Road just before Bull Rock, the parking area and ramp that leads to the platform are adjacent to the eastern trailhead of Treasure Pond Trail within the Charles B. Ferguson Wildlife Sanctuary. A bench on the platform provides a place to sit and enjoy the view year-round.

Adam Murray, agricultural technology teacher at the Fishers Island School, and students from his landscape construction class worked with Museum Board Land Trust Committee members including Bob Miller, Jeff Edwards, Scott Reid, and Ken Edwards, as well as Jack Schneider, the Land Trust stewardship coordinator, to make it possible.

“The students built the frames for the walkway at the school and we transported them to the location to begin the assembly process,” says Murray. “The students really enjoyed working with Jack and Jeff to make it happen. It was by far the biggest project my students have worked on.”

The site was cleared and graded by Race Rock Garden Co., which also upgraded the parking space, while the wooden ramp and platform were constructed and installed by Murray’s students. The parking area can accommodate two vehicles including one equipped with a special needs lift.

“Several members of the Fishers Island community recognized the need for a place for those unable to walk the trails where they can sit and enjoy the beauty of Middle Farms Pond,” says Scott Reid, Museum Board member. Bob Hoey, whose home is located near the site, believed this area would be an ideal location for an accessible viewing platform. “Bob walks an enormous amount and passes by this overlook regularly,” says Reid. “He noticed members of the community with limited mobility would park there to enjoy the view from their car. So, he suggested the idea of creating a viewing area to Bob Miller and me.”

Over the past several years, Reid did much of the preliminary clearing of the view and flat area. “It makes me so happy that more and more people will be able to enjoy it—not just those who are physically able, but also those with limited mobility,” he says.

“The Land Trust is excited that we are now able to provide a venue for all members of the community and give them the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Land Trust and the trail network that so many people have been actively engaged in enhancing over the last 20 or even 30 years,” he adds. “It is also an ideal location to visit for people who simply want an easily accessible and convenient place to sit and enjoy nature. The wide and elevated view of Middle Farms Pond can be seen from the platform and serves as a great location for birding.”

Jack Schneider, Land Trust stewardship coordinator, agrees. “This is an important addition, in a nontraditional setting, to the Museum’s efforts to provide meaningful experiences for everyone,” says Schneider.

A project recognition sign commemorating the joint effort between the Fishers Island School and the Museum will be installed at the site sometime during the next school year.