Fisherman needs Fresno's help to hook the big one

FRESNO, Calif.

"Fishing is the one thing anybody can do, whether you're a man, woman, there's no limit."

Kent Hildebrand loves to fish and he's got the gear to prove it.

"Oh yeah, I've got lots of gear," said Hildebrand. "Probably, 50 fishing poles at home, then I've got Bruce over here. The bus."

But he claims there are only a few places where he can go to cast his line. That's because Hildebrand lost his leg in a diving accident, and now requires a wheelchair to get to the water.

Hildebrand said, "This thing right here really gets me."

One of the places he'd like to go, is the fishing pond at the Fresno Regional Sports Complex, but right now, it doesn't have a ramp.

Hildebrand said, "The curb is shaved here so a wheelchair can come from wheelchair parking to a crosswalk, which should be, but a crosswalk to where? If you're in a wheelchair it's a crosswalk to nowhere."

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are entitled to "full and equal access to places of public accommodation" including sports facilities.

When we called the city to investigate, director of public works Patrick Wiemiller, told us the pond at the Regional Sports Complex was originally created for irrigation and wasn't intended to become part of the park.

He said in a written statement: "The fishing amenity was added several years later as a part of a city partnership with the State Department of Fish and Game to provide urban fishing opportunities. We're now aware of the issue and the city is evaluating accessibility and program options to ensure compliance with ADA requirements."

In the meantime, Kent Hildebrand sits and waits, hoping to hook city leaders, into incorporating some of his ideas into their plans.

Hildebrand said, "The minimal invasion to government and cost would be to continue a path down there, label the path for handicap or disabled sportsman only and then put a little dock out into the water."

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