By Jeremy Moore
BROOMFIELD, CO. — Scenic golf cart rides for disabled nursing home residents, at no charge. That idea seems like a no-brainer, especially when those views are just across the street. At least that’s what Rick Nierman, the husband of a nursing home resident in Broomfield, thought four months ago when he first pitched the idea.
“We’re trying to promote the use of a golf cart with accessibility for handicapped or disabled people on an open space trail that they normally wouldn’t be able to access,” Nierman said. “Get them out of their normal setting. Get them in the outdoors, out in the sun. Let them enjoy life.”
Nierman soon found out, golf carts on open space trails is not yet a thing, so he submitted a three-page proposal. That turned into a city council resolution. It passed by a vote of 7 to 2, making Broomfield a test case.
The test began Thursday morning, with Nierman finally able to legally take his wife and other nursing home residents on golf cart excursions across the street in Broomfield Commons Open Space.
Nierman, a 71-year-old Colorado native who was raised in Holyoke and now lives in Denver, majored in recreation, with a minor in special education. He says he knows the value of physical and mental stimulation.
“You put yourself in a four-wall room, 24/7, with no stimulation, no motivation, you kind of lose interest in everything,” Nierman said. “Their tax dollars paid for these parks. Why can’t they use them now?”
Nierman is retired, and says he has a lot of extra time for little projects like this. “You might say there’s no cost,” Nierman said. “No investment, just the donation of the cart, donation of the trailer, my gas money, I guess – but I’m willing to do that.”
He’s considering calling the service “Kathy’s Karts”, after his wife, a resident at Broomfield Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The service, however, is not just for residents of that facility.
“Anybody handicapped, in a wheelchair or walker – if you love the outdoors and want to walk a trail but you can’t, come on out, we’ll take you around,” Nierman said. “If your mind’s not being used, you’re going to lose it.”
Nierman says he would like to see the service start in other Colorado communities and across the country.
Not just anyone can take a golf cart out on the trails in Broomfield. Nierman’s permit applies just to him, for use at this one park. He can take the cart out once a month, between June and October. ❂