More long beach mats like this one at 34th Street will offer convenience and added accessibility. By MADDY VITALEOcean City’s 2020 summer season will feature a couple new reasons why people seem to faithfully come back to the resort for vacations year after year.From a beach replenishment program that is continuing to widen beaches along the resort, to longer mobility mats that provide easier travels across the sand, plans are underway to improve the gem of the barrier island.In Mayor Jay Gillian’s annual State of the City address, delivered during Thursday’s City Council meeting, he spoke about the replenishment project and the beach mats.“The Army Corps of Engineers in January completed a project to rebuild beaches and dunes at the south end of Ocean City,” Gillian said.He continued, “The Corps will return in the spring to pump an estimated 1.4 million cubic yards of new sand onto the north end beaches in time for the summer season. This work will help shore up an uninterrupted line of dunes protecting properties in Ocean City.”Gillian also noted how well the longer mobility mats worked at the 34th Street beach last summer as a model for extending other beach mats in 2020.“After a successful experiment last summer with extending beach mats to create wheelchair-accessible sitting areas on the beach, we will look to expand the program,” he explained.Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said in an email that the Public Works Department will add new locations, but they will not be determined until after the beach replenishment project in the spring.The extra-long beach mat at 34th Street is the only one of its kind in Ocean City that extends all the way to the high tide line.Long mats help beachgoers easily traverse the sand.The city has mobility mats at more than 50 beaches, but they are shorter than the one at 34th Street and don’t come as close to the water.The mat on 34th Street effectively creates a sitting area closer to the ocean for people in wheelchairs.Fourth Ward Councilman Bob Barr, whose district includes 34th Street, has been one of the city’s leading advocates for creating more access to the beachesBorn with cerebral palsy, Barr uses a wheelchair for his mobility.In July of 2019, two months into the experiment at 34th Street, Barr told OCNJDaily.com of the mats, “I’ve heard positive feedback from beachgoers, from residents and from the city administration.”During an interview Sunday, Barr said he is happy and excited about the plan to extend the mats to other beaches in the resort.“I think any time we can make our city more accessible it is a good thing. From a disabled person’s standpoint, it is extremely difficult to navigate the beach,” Barr said. “The mayor and Council have been very good about making our town as accessible as possible.”He emphasized that the mat makes time at the beach much more enjoyable.“You can ride your chair all the way down to the water if you want to,” Barr added.He said in the next month or so city officials will determine which beaches will get the longer mats for the 2020 season.Barr’s hope is that one day all of Ocean City’s beaches have them.“It may even bring more people to the beaches who didn’t come before,” he said.For a list of beaches with mobility mats visit www.ocnj.us/Handicapped-Accessibility.The distinctive blue mat, made of hard plastic, sits on top of the sand to create an easy-to-walk pathway.
JASON Holder and Shane Dowrich kept West Indies from disintegrating in the last hour of an engrossing but slow-moving day, finishing up at 218 for five, still trailing Pakistan by 158 runs.Things had looked bleak for Holder’s men when their best batsman Roston Chase walked off midway, after being struck on the elbow by a Mohammad Amir bouncer. But the others pulled their weight stoically enough to ensure they could claim a share of the spoils.West Indies didn’t lose any of their grit with Hope’s dismissal at the stroke of tea. For little over an hour after the break, they frustrated Pakistan before Vishal Singh, who has had a torrid first series, probably went a little too deep into his shell, especially against the faster bowlers.Even so, it was admirable to see the rookie fight it out on the pitch under considerable pressure although Misbah-ul-Haq was perhaps guilty of making it a little too easy for him, carrying on with the part-time of Azhar Ali from one end.With the hosts fighting so gamely, the moment that turned the session against them was an exceptionally cruel twist of fate.The new ball was just three overs old When Mohammad Amir hurried Roston Chase into a pull shot, the ball striking him flush on the elbow. After lengthy treatment on the field, the series’ highest run-scorer was forced to retire hurt.For a Pakistan team that had been unable to penetrate in the session up till then, it would have seemed like a wicket. Vishal succumbed two overs later to – predictably enough – pace. Mohammad Abbas swung the new ball in sharply to trap him plumb in front. Suddenly the West Indies looked vulnerable again, trailing as they did by 200 runs.Fortunately for the West Indies, Holder and Dowrich showed the same determination to ensure they didn’t go in to stumps having suffered any other blows in the face of a masterclass in discipline from the Pakistan pacers. Amir, in particular, continued to carry menace with the sort of short delivery that had injured Chase, striking Holder in the chest area once, and cramping both batsmen with the bouncer time and again.West Indies started the day in the sort of sedate fashion that has characterised much of this Test match, meandering along at a scoring rate well below two per over; only one boundary came in the first 25 overs.The day only came to life when Powell decided to take the attack to Yasir, but after shuffling across and sweeping him to the vacant square leg boundary once, he dragged a lofted hit to Azhar Ali at deep midwicket.Shimron Hetmyer came out with the same plan of not allowing Yasir to settle. He drove Yasir for a boundary in the first over he faced, and soon after, dispatched a short delivery for six over deep midwicket. But the wily leg-spinner had the last laugh again, getting one to turn in sharply from the rough, kissing Hetmyer’s gloves with Sarfraz Ahmed taking a sharp catch.Pakistan may not have had the wicket had Sarfraz not confidently signalled for a review almost the moment umpire Bruce Oxenford adjudged not out.Even so, West Indies still looked for scoring opportunities off Yasir, who ended the day having conceded nearly half the runs of the entire innings. It wasn’t that he was bowling poorly – a lot of his balls were perfect leg-spinners with sharp turn – but his consistency deserted him, prompting a rare reprimand from Misbah. Yet, it didn’t seem like he was far away from a wicket either.That duly arrived in the last over before lunch when Brathwaite, who looked fairly comfortable up until then, jabbed at a delivery that spun away sharply to take the edge through to the wicketkeeper. The deadlock of the first hour was well and truly broken by then.As in the first session, it was impossible to ignore the feeling that the game was moving on only while Yasir was bowling. Ironically, it was Azhar Ali who pulled things back for Pakistan during the afternoon, taking the only wicket in the session off its last ball, with Hope slicing to Misbah at short cover.It was a game that could have been snatched away from the West Indies in every session today. That they managed to hold Pakistan off and ensure they go in to day four still able to claim parity must feel like a small win in itself.(ESPNcricinfo)