Tammy Loew loves to fish, but maneuvering her wheelchair on a sandy shore is difficult. Erickson Park’s fishing pier and boardwalk allow offshore lake accessibility to all anglers, including those with limited mobility like Tammy.
“If you have typical strengths and weaknesses, you can go to a lot of places to fish. But if you become disabled and still like to fish, you have to have a place,” said Tammy’s mother, Donna Loew. She is chief volunteer officer of Special Friends Inc., which promotes the well-being of people with disabilities.
Volunteers led a $2.3 million makeover of Erickson Park, completed in 2019 and funded by grants and private donations. Now advocates hope the Erickson Park on Glen Loch Endowment Fund will reel in support and aid for park maintenance and improvements.
“You don’t want the park to dissipate because of the inability to sustain itself,” said Peggy Crank of Special Friends. “It’s awesome that we now have this endowment fund that is going to go to maintain it."
Special Friends, in partnership with the city of Chippewa Falls, created the designated endowment fund on June 30, 2021. Special Friends previously established a special project pass-through fund with the Community Foundation of Chippewa County for the renovation.
What started as a concept for a large, accessible fishing facility “grew into a full-blown park,” said Ron Bakken, who was instrumental in the initiation and management of the project.
The 15-acre recreation area features 400 feet of frontage on Glen Loch Lake. Visitors can walk on wooded paths, picnic in pavilions, cross a pedestrian bridge to Irvine Park and connect to existing bike trails. People with differing abilities can use the adaptive and universally accessible boardwalk, pier and canoe-kayak launch.
Grants support the maintenance and improvements of Erickson Park on Glen Loch in Chippewa Falls.