OLEAN — Users of mobility scooters will have more places to charge up while enjoying Walkable Olean, city officials reported Thursday.
The Cattaraugus County Healthy Livable Communities Consortium presented the city with four Clearfield mobility charging stations on Thursday for placement in public spaces, with funding provided by a federal grants, said Sandi Brundage, director of the city of Salamanca Youth Bureau who helps lead the consortium.
“The gentleman who created them is in a wheelchair and he likes to enjoy the trails in Oregon,” Brundage said, adding the idea came after the man was stranded on a trail because of a dead battery.
The roughly $500 charging stations were purchased with funds from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors Improving Health in People Living with Disabilities Grant. The funding was awarded to 10 communities nationally, including two in New York state.
“This is the first municipality in New York state to receive them,” she said, adding that two chargers were delivered to Allegany State Park earlier this year. The first was installed in the Red House area of the park.
“It was very positive — they were the first park in New York state to get them,” Brundage said. “With our aging population, we have more people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters — and we want them to enjoy our parks and trails.”
Roughly 30 percent of Cattaraugus County residents live with some kind of disability, she said, and for many that means limited mobility.
“It helps with not only physical disability but also mental disability, because instead of being stuck in your house, you can go out and not be worried about running out of juice,” she added.
Mayor Bill Aiello thanks the consortium for its work to get the stations for the city.
“It ultimately falls in with our Walkable Olean concept,” Aiello said, referencing the initiative to renovate the city’s downtown with improved mobility access. “Anything we can do to help our neighbors with mobility issues, we’re happy to help.”
“I can see more of these coming into the area in the future,” Aiello added, noting they are “one more tool to make Olean a better community.”
Dr. Kevin Watkins, director of the Cattaraugus County Health Department, recalled discussions about charging stations from his role on the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative local planning committee earlier this year.
“We were talking about this during the DRI process, and now we have them,” he said, praising Brundage for her efforts. “I see a lot of people on scooters utilizing Walkable Olean.”
Exactly where they will go is still undecided.
“We’ll be placing them strategically,” Aiello said, with plans along West State Street and North Union Street likely.
Keri Kerper, program coordinator for the city’s Department of Community Renewal, said she spoke with officials at Directions in Independent Living, who recommended placing one in an Olean Area Transit System bus shelter near the corner of West State and Eighth streets or at Holiday Park Center.