SEABROOK — Town officials couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate person than Gov. Maggie Hassan to snip the ribbon yesterday afternoon at the grand opening of its handicapped-accessible Harborside Park.
It isn’t just that she is the state’s highest elected official, and as Town Manager Bill Manzi said, “a longtime friend” of Seabrook, having represented the town for six years as its state senator. It isn’t even that she lives next door in Exeter and that she and her family love the ocean and consider the seacoast “home.”
It’s because Hassan knows better than most the benefit of building a park everyone can enjoy, not just the fleet of foot.
“I’m the mother of a 25-year-old son who is in a wheelchair,” Hassan told the crowd gathered for the park’s dedication yesterday.
Sitting right on Seabrook harbor, with its benches, picnic tables, asphalt walkways and gentle slope down to the water’s edge, the park allows everyone, including her son, Ben, to enjoy the pleasures that abound at New Hampshire’s seacoast, Hassan said.
The coast is a big part of New Hampshire’s second largest industry of tourism, Hassan said, as well as a major part of the state’s quality of life. The park is beautiful in its own right, she said, but opening it up to the disabled who have not been able to access the shore previously makes it innovative, inclusive and generous.
“New Hampshire is an all-hands-on-deck state,” she said. “We don’t wait for people to tell us what to do.”
Seabrook reached out and pulled together local and federal dollars and worked with state and federal agencies for permitting, she said. The result is a great asset that will include more people in the life of the town and also provide an economic draw.