The city is giving up on the idea of installing a pedestrian bridge across the spillway for Birge Pond as part of this year’s $300,000 project to improve the park.
After engineers determined the century-old dam at the Hoppers-Birge Pond Nature Preserve couldn’t support the planned walkway, they hoped to create a pedestrian span below the dam.
But Park Director Ed Swicklas said that creating the bridge would cost $100,000 or more because of the need to erect concrete supports in the low, swampy area.
That’s too great a share of the limited budget available, park officials said.
There will likely be enough cash to pay for the $18,000 design for a new span, however, leaving the door open to constructing it later.
“I don’t think we should abandon the idea,” Swicklas said.
The overall project consists of remaking the existing parking lot, adding handicapped accessible paths along the south end of the pond, putting in picnic tables and installing some parking along Ambler Road. Improvements to the old gatehouse slab that juts into the pond slightly are also planned.
With a bridge, it would be possible to walk around the pond without traipsing down to Ambler Road and then back up to the water.
“I would like to have that be a loop because it’s a pain to go around” to the road, said Cindy Donovan, a park commissioner.
Swicklas said the pedestrian bridge can be put on the five-year project list next spring so that it can receive funding in the future.
The city hopes to complete the Hoppers-Birge Pond project this year.
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