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Article updated: 7/27/2011 4:06 PM

Itasca OKs new $115,000 boardwalk

By Elisabeth Mistretta

Nature lovers in Itasca must say goodbye next week to the boardwalk that runs through the wetlands and marsh near Spring Brook Nature Center -- but only temporarily.

Workers will begin building an improved boardwalk in a few weeks. The Itasca village board voted Tuesday to approve a contract for Wisconsin-based Custom Manufacturing, Inc. to build a new, $115,000 boardwalk. The price for the 720-foot structure exceeds the initial quote of $108,000, after trustees realized safety requirements demand vertical handrails along the boardwalk.

Horizontal rails could act as a ladder that would make it easier for unsupervised children to jump over the boardwalk, said Village Administrator Evan Teich. The vertical rails must also be close together, so children cannot get their heads or limbs stuck in between, he added.

Workers have made as-needed repairs in sections on the old boardwalk for many years, but they will tear it down next week. Construction on the new structure, which will resist weather damage and allow for more water retention, is slated to begin Aug. 15.

Funding for the project will come from Itasca's hotel tax revenues, which by state law must be used only to promote tourism.

Teich said the nature center and Itasca Riverwalk that leads to it both draw visitors from other communities.

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