By Mark Ambrogi
The estimated damage of the fallen oak tree at Starkey Park is in.
Zionsville Parks Dept. crew members discovered the tree Jan. 19. It landed on a boardwalk that had been an Eagle Scout project. The base of the stairs leading to the boardwalk was destroyed as well.
Zionsville Supt. of Parks and Recreation Matt Dickey said the cost of replacing the stairs, boardwalk and a picnic table is $13,761.85, including the labor hours the parks and streets department had accumulated in cleaning up the damage.
“We put all that together with the cost estimate and sent that to the insurance company,” Dickey said. “It does include contracted labor to rebuild the boardwalk. We treated it as if we were going to contract that stuff out, which we may or may not have to depending on what they give us or don’t give us.”
Dickey said he hopes that repairs to the entrance to the trail will be ready in the spring, but completion might depend on what the insurance company decides.
“We don’t know what they may or may not come to the table with,” Dickey said. “We don’t want to spend money out of the budget if it’s going to be covered from the insurance.”
Dickey said the tree likely fell because walkers and runners stepped off the trail, which eventually led the tree roots to compact and die. The department had added more soil to the area but was unable to keep up with the damage.
“It was pretty random,” Dickey said. “It couldn’t have fallen in a worse direction.”
Ash trees removed
The parks department has removed damaged ash trees along the Rail Trail. The damage was caused by emerald ash borer larvae.
“We may have trimmed up an additional (non-ash) tree or two while we are nearby, but by far the biggest percentage were ash trees,” Dickey said. “The trail is currently open as we are working on other maintenance tasks at this time. It was never closed for very long and never for significant lengths of the nearly four-mile long trail. We just closed short sections when the tree or trees we were working on (and their clean up) were closer to the trail itself.”