David Muckleroy goes down Pruitt Hill Drive in his motorized wheelchair, but he's nervous the entire way. "It is quite steep. The elevation is quite bad," said Muckleroy before venturing the route.
At the bottom of the hill, disabled residents will share with the rest of the community new University Drive sidewalks. Yet, there is no sidewalk to help residents get off and back up the hill safely.
Resident Sean Choate described a close call he had in his motorized scooter. "A car came flying down and I had to swerve and almost hit the curb to avoid being hit."
A switchback sidewalk similar to the one in front of IHOP Restaurant is needed on Pruitt Hill. The Mayor's Committee on People With Disabilities is attempting to raise the money for Independence Trail. Rod Stepan is helping. "To get everything done it's about a half a million dollars. And the reason for that is because there are ADA specifications for grade and handrails and that type of thing."
Independence Manor residents do have access to transportation, but it doesn't run all the time. The complex bus stops running around 3:00. Public transportation stops in the early evening. None of them run on the weekends. Resident Candice Stepan said, "I don't mind taking the bus, but we would like to be able to travel more independently."
And why not. Just like anyone else, they have places to go. Resident Debra Jones said she and her neighbors frequent nearby businesses. "Brookshires is close. HEB is close, and we frequent those places. We go to the mall. Quite a few of us go down there."
A new apartment development and the extension of Pruitt Hill to Park Street create an urgency for the safe sidewalk. Organizers are hopeful for support so everyone can be on the trail to independence.
Donations can be made to the Mayor's Committee on People With Disabilities Independence Trail Project, P. O. Box 635030, Nacogdoches, 75963.