Wolf River busy with projects
Pier, wall, boat launches get attention
By Scott Bellile
Three improvements finished or began along the Wolf River within the last week.
New London Public Services Director Chad Hoerth shared with the Press Star the latest news on a fishing and boat dock, a retaining wall and two boat launches.
Fishing pier completed
A new 86-foot fishing and boat dock that was installed in front of St. John’s Park on May 1 is at last accessible to people with disabilities.
The city of New London bought the pier largely for the accessibility component, but that capability was unavailable until July 3 when Manitowoc company Port-A-Pier, which built the floating pier, installed the wheelchair-friendly gangplank. Before then, visitors could only access the dock by stairs.
The gangplank’s two-month delay was the result of Port-A-Pier subcontracting its construction to a Florida company in a failed effort to speed up the project. The company in Florida became backlogged with other projects after last hurricane season.
Despite the gangplank’s delay, Hoerth said he received no complaints from people who could not access the dock over the last two months.
Wall upgrade phase 2
The concrete retaining wall that supports the new fishing pier is undergoing more repairs.
Norcon Corporation of Schofield is fixing the wall moving west from St. John’s Park to Shawano Street. The company started the $336,028 project on Monday, July 9.
Last fall, a Sussex-based construction company repaired a stretch of the wall near the bridge on Pearl Street in phase one. The company also replaced a section of the wall that was beyond repair.
This year’s work will be less intensive, Hoerth said. Much of the work is repairing cracks in the wall. Crews will replace one storm sewer outfall that carries water from the downtown back alley to the river.
The alley behind North Water Street stores will not be closed to traffic until later on when crews progress to the west side where the alley is narrower, Hoerth said.
Some downtown residents have temporary parking arrangements in the private lots by St. John’s Park and Anchor Park, Hoerth said.
In other news related to the retaining wall, the New London City Council was set to approve the first reading of an ordinance after press time Tuesday, July 10, that would regulate public’s ability to attach devices or structures such as personal docks to the wall.
The proposed ordinance aims to protect the structural integrity of the wall that the city just invested in, Hoerth told the New London Board of Public Works on July 2.
Individuals or organizations would have to receive approval from the board of public works before attaching temporary or permanent structures to the wall.
Attachments that involve drilling, screwing or anchoring would have to be reviewed by the city’s structural engineer – currently McMahon Associates – for an hourly fee. The review would likely total several hundred dollars.
If the engineer would approve, then a licensed and insured contractor would have to perform the attachment.
Third District Alderwoman Lori Dean asked the board of public works why the city would allow anyone to attach structures to the wall.
Mayor Gary Henke responded: “Because if they have an engineering firm come in and they design something that’s not going to wreck the river wall in any way or another, I think that’s fine if a business would want to do that. … I mean, very frankly if every business down there wanted to put a dock in behind their place, it’s fine with me.”
The ordinance would need a second reading by the city council in August before becoming municipal law.
A second project that started Monday, July 9, is the extension of two boat launches at Riverside Park.
The west bay and center bay will be extended by about 20 feet. The east ramp closest to Johnny’s Little Shop of Bait is less developed and will not be touched, Hoerth said.
The $172,940 project is funded through fees that local boaters pay to launch as well as a 50 percent Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Recreational Boating Facilities Grant worth up to $92,645.
Hoerth said the project is necessary because power loading boats onto trailers is an increasingly common practice as boats become larger. The practice has scoured and washed away the back ends of the launches’ concrete ramps.
The extension will reduce the risk of motorists dropping trailers off the ramps or backing their boat propellers into material buildup when the water is low, Hoerth said.
The project was supposed to occur last fall. However, the state legislature passed its latest budget two months overdue last year, which delayed the awarding of the DNR grant to New London until Nov. 5, 2017. By then, it was too late to start construction, Hoerth said.