It's been a battle, but I want to catch you all up with the status of the bridge project. It's been quite the journey, but we re upon a landmark time for Harrybrooke Park.
To catch everyone up, the bridge was declared unsafe in November of 2021. This was due to a self imposed inspection. You see in 2018 we performed a routine safety inspection. We were told in 2018 that it passed, but they recommended we revisit it in five years to see the progression.
While there is no official record to the bridge, we estimate it was built after the flood of 1955. This was the second bridge built in that location. The first was built by Frank Harden between 1941 and 1943. It was washed out and we are estimating that was in the great flood that decimated the town.
So in November 2021, we decided to have it checked early, prior to the anticipated five-year plan. Upon inspection, the steel holding up the bridge had become detached on the Lanesville Road side. It was recommended we close it to all traffic to salvage the strength it still had.
The quotes given from the engineers were massive. Almost six million dollars to replace the bridge. Unfathomable. Since we are recognized as a historic property by the state, we asked if restoration was possible. After drilling, we were told that it would be an option, dropping the estimate to $1.94 million. Still a very difficult number for us to absorb.
We asked if there could be any temporary fix and were told yes, and a cost of $126,000 in the estimate. This would be a temporary fix that we are told can last two to three years.
Most people do not realize that Harrybrooke Park is a nonprofit 501c3 and not a municipal or state park. This makes it even more difficult to raise the dollars or to find grants, which we are doing almost daily.
We reached out to the community as the park is "The People's Park" to ask for your help in restoration. While every dollar counts, in the last 6 months we have raised just $2,400 from general donation. It was very generous, but far short of our goal of $126,000.
Luckily, Mayor Pete Bass stepped in to offer assistance in this temporary fix. With the recent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the town could allocate the $126,000 to the park to pay for the temporary fix. This would allow us to remain open for upcoming events, weddings and regular pavilion rentals, allowing us to maintain the small amount of revenue we have to keep the park open.
In the meantime we are discussing the use of state ARPA funds with Governor Lamont's office as well in the hopes of state support and funding to cross that finish line. This takes time but the wheels are in motion.
In the meantime, a contractor has been chosen and will begin restoration next week! We are hopeful that the project can be completed prior to Memorial Day, but the contractor is confident that it will certainly be done by the end of the month with a firm My 30th finish time.
So this all means that we will re-open the regular routine pretty soon. Thank you all for your ongoing support and understanding. Within a couple weeks, let's hope we are driving on the bridge :)
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The blogs are written by our park Executive Director, Billy Buckbee. Some call him Mo but he's the guy with the beard you see around the park.