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Across the pond - $70,000 project to replace old Ellis Pond boardwalk

By Wendy Giroux

Visitors to Ellis Pond will soon be able to enjoy strolling along a new boardwalk over the water.

A $70,000 project to replace the old, rotting boardwalk will be at least 40 percent cheaper because parks staff have done most of the work in-house, said Mike Elde, Parks and Recreation Operations Manager.

The project was originally planned to be completed in 2003, but it was moved back because the process and plan review took longer, Elde said. Meanwhile, maintenance crews have been replacing rotting boards for the past 10 years or so.

``We're able to provide some well-deserved improvements to the Ellis Pond area,'' he said. ``I'm real happy to see that they're being accomplished and it's nice to be able to do the project in-house.''

Elde hopes to have more and more projects completed by parks workers in the future, since it's more efficient and gives staff members even more ownership in the parks properties they help maintain.

In September, parks workers began removing the old bridge. Contractor McDowell Northwest was hired for about $20,000 to put pin piles -- the main supports for the bridge -- about 14 feet into the ground.

While the old structure was built solely of wood, the new one includes galvanized metal and ironwood.

``Ironwood is a more durable, long-lasting product recommended by the U.S. Forest Service,'' Elde said.

Ironwood is touted as being five times harder than cedar, and the supplies for the 209-foot bridge had to be special-ordered out of Milwaukee for about $25,000.

Elde said he wanted to give credit to parks workers Casey Troy and Aaron Heyer, who have worked on the project through some terrible weather, standing in the pond in hip waders for much of it.

The neighbors around the pond have been very supportive and patient with the work, he said.

``The Ellis Pond folks are one of the neighbor groups I like working with because they're interested about what's happening there.''

In addition to the new boardwalk, the entrance sign off of S.E. 90th Street was also replaced. A project planned for later this year will install a series of interpretive signs about plants and animals along the boardwalk and trails.

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