FISH CREEK, Wis. – Efforts to rebuild Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park are underway with plans in place to deconstruct the existing tower and a partnership formed to raise funds for constructing a new tower.
The park closed the tower to public use in May 2015 to protect public safety after an inspection report raised significant concerns over its structural integrity. A peer-reviewed inspection report found the tower is not structurally adequate to support the loading conditions that the tower can receive from public use. A later inspection by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory found considerable deterioration of the structural and non-structural wood members.
“Repairing the existing tower is not feasible based on the overall condition of the wood members and load bearing abilities of the current structure as identified in the engineering reports,” said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff, local legislators and community members began working together in January to discuss options for rebuilding Eagle Tower. Current plans are to deconstruct the existing tower and rebuild a new structure to look as similar as possible to the existing tower, while complying building codes, Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and taking into consideration new technologies.
The DNR will oversee the technical procedures regarding Eagle Tower, beginning with laser imaging of the existing tower that will produce as-built drawings of the structure that currently do not exist. Deconstruction of the tower will take place mid to late July. The tower will be taken down in three sections making all practical efforts to minimize destruction of tower members. A crane will remove each section, which will then be further taken apart by hand on the ground. Staff from the Forest Products Lab will assess all remaining wood elements to determine the existing structural integrity and level of deterioration.
The deconstruction and assessment work may require a temporary traffic rerouting of a section of Shore Road within the park close to the tower, as well as some trails near the tower. However, the park will provide opportunities for visitors to view the deconstruction process.
The Friends of Peninsula State Park in cooperation with interested community members has formed a subcommittee, the Eagle Tower Fund Committee, that is kicking off a fundraising effort to rebuild Eagle Tower. .
Kelli Bruns, Peninsula State Park superintendent said park staff will be coordinating outreach programs to both the public and summer school and youth groups during the tower deconstruction and wood assessment, with daily presentations by park staff and Forest Products Lab engineers. DNR will also be working with internal and external partners to document the deconstruction, wood assessment and rebuilding of the tower.
The kiosk at the entrance station/park office and the kiosk located at Eagle Tower will be updated regularly with information regarding ongoing work. People can also sign up to receive email updates on tower progress by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “Eagle Tower” and clicking on the “subscribe for Eagle Tower updates” link near the email icon.