Future of Bethel Boardwalk Uncertain

by Ben Matheson on July 1, 2014

The boardwalk closed in May, 2014. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The boardwalk closed in May, 2014. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The fate of the boardwalk from the Kuskokwim Campus to near the hospital is up the air after closing to foot traffic in May. The wood has apparently deteriorated to a point that it is a safety hazard. The trail is a frequently used shortcut to travel from City Subdivision and to avoid a busy stretch of the Chief’s highway.

Bethel Interim City Manager Greg Moyer says there is no plan or budget at this point for fixing the boardwalk. The city has been responsible for maintaining the boardwalk.

Meera Kohler is President and CEO of the Alaska Village Electric Co-op, which recently took over for Bethel Utilities Corporation. The company had built the pilings on which the boardwalk stands to distribute waste heat from the power plant.

“We’re certainly willing to continue to make the pipeline system available as a support for a boardwalk. We would like to be absolved from any liability were someone to be hurt while using the boardwalk. And I think that was one of the concerns the city had, it was starting to rot through,” said Kohler.

The current arrangement may not be easy to salvage. Then-acting City Manager Pete Williams told the Council in May that the boardwalk was beyond hope. Bethel resident Greg Roczika was working for the city in 1985 and was a leader on the boardwalk project. He told the council last month that it was built in three weeks for about 28-thousand dollars.

The item will be discussed Wednesday night at a meeting of the newly-reestablished Trails Committee.

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