Vandalism closes Big Lake fish viewing platform
Some Big Lake community members are frustrated after someone destroyed a viewing platform at the Jay Nolfi Fish Creek Park.
Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Dan Mayfield, who lives in Big Lake, said vandalism happens in that area every year. This time, however, the vandals ripped off the platform’s railing and now it’s not safe to occupy.
“Obviously if someone falls in the water without the handrails there, that’s a huge liability. Especially if it’s a two-year-old child,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield also said repairing the platform isn’t as simple as installing a new railing. He said they discovered the wood is rotting and the entire structure needs to be replaced.
The platform is in a Mat-Su Borough park and it sits over fish habitat.
The borough’s community development director, Eric Phillips, said there’s only a rough estimate right now, based on the costs to construct similar projects, but engineering and building a new platform would be tens of thousands of dollars.
Mayfield says they want to make the platform better than before and more durable to make it last over time.
He’s made a proposed amendment to the Mat-Su Borough budget that would move $50,000 from planning studies to capital improvements to cover some of the costs to replace the platform. The assembly is reviewing and voting on amendments all week as the budget process goes forward.
In the meantime, Big Lake resident Tina Sena wants to remove the rotted wood from the park. The broken handrail has sharp screws poking out and the platformed is lined with rusty nails.She’s working to get a permit from the borough that allows her to do the work by accepting liability for the project.
“Using our own hands, our own equipment,” Sena said. “We’re just looking for permission, the legal and right way to be able to help our community out with one thing at a time.”
The mother of four has lived in Big Lake for 10 years. She says she wants to do something positive to help her community and other business owners are willing to pitch in too.
“I had about ten people call me and tell me they want to volunteer their time, their equipment,” Sena said.
She’s offering to foot the bill for bringing the wood to the landfill.
Mayfield said he’s glad to see community members like Sena stepping in to help.
“We love to help each other. When times are tough, that community really does pull together,” Mayfield said.
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