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'A long road ahead': Park District preaching patience after storm

Quincy Park District workers Ryan Martin, left, and Chad Szarka clear out freshly cut logs from a downed cherry tree as they and other park district workers clear debris Monday, July 20, 2015, in Wavering Park.
Posted: Jul. 22, 2015 8:41 am Updated: Aug. 5, 2015 8:58 am

By DON O'BRIEN
Staff Writer | 217-221-3370
dobrien@whig.com | @DOBrienWHIG

QUINCY -- Quincy Park District officials hope people who use the city's parks on a regular basis will have a little patience during the weeks and months ahead.

Executive Director Rome Frericks said Monday that no park was spared from the July 13 windstorm, whether it was tree or structure damage.

Park District crews turned their attention to their own facilities Monday after helping city of Quincy crews with cleanup last week. What they found is a huge workload. They will have to clean up all 29 of the city's parks, spread over more than 1,000 acres.

"It's going to be a long road ahead," Frericks said. "It's going to take time. I'm hoping we can have some patience from the park users who like to go to their certain park each and every day."

The two public pools, the Batting Cage area and Westview Golf Course were open this week, but Wednesday morning, none of the parks had been cleared for use by Park District officials. Frericks said the early stages of the Park District's cleanup will be spent on neighborhood parks and destination places such as the Wavering-Moorman facility on the city's northeast side. Wavering-Moorman has five shelters and also is home to softball fields and a popular disc golf course. That park was the least affected by the storm.

The Park District isn't entirely sure how much damage was done to South Park, which along with Madison Park and Quinsippi Island were the hardest hit by the storm. Frericks knows no structural damage was suffered by any of the buildings at South Park, but with trees covering the roads inside the park, officials don't know the full extent of the tree damage in the park.

Frericks said it could be months before South Park is reopened. He said the Park District will use an outside contractor to help with cleanup.

"We know there are trees laying on top of other trees," Frericks said. "We haven't even done an assessment yet (of South Park)."

An insurance adjustor spend all day Friday going through the parks. Frericks hopes to know this week how much in cleanup costs insurance will cover. Frericks knows the insurance won't come close to covering all expenses related to the damage.

"Our insurance doesn't cover trees that don't touch any structures," he said. "We're going to be on the hook for 95 percent of the cleanup."

Frericks anticipates costs for structure damage being similar to the $300,000 to $400,000 the Park District spent after the 2011 windstorm, but he says there is much more tree debris to clean up with this storm.

"The out-of-pocket expenses on our end will probably be three to four times higher than what was incurred in 2011," he said.

The district also must find funds to fix parts of the Bill Klingner Trail, which were washed out during a July 11 thunderstorm, and it also is looking at a hefty repair tag for the Quinsippi Island bridge. A bid opening will be held July 30 to see how much it will cost the district to repair the bridge, which is rated in poor condition.

"Repair-wise, damage-wise, we should be OK (financially)," Frericks said. "The only thing that makes me a little nervous is the cost of the bridge."

A number of Park District programs have been canceled or postponed because the parks are closed. A list of those can be found at www.quincyparkdistrict.com.