Friends group formed for bridge
KALONA—After a public meeting was held on Tuesday, Sept. 10, to gauge interest in saving the Bunker Mill Bridge, an organization was formed to try to save the bridge.
They are called the Friends of Bunker Mill Bridge. Tuesday evening four officers were installed and four board members joined the group. The officers are president Raymond Tinnian, vice president Scott Allen, treasurer Jim Hussey, secretary Doris Parks, and managing director Suzanne Micheau. The board members are David and Susan Finley, Tom Marsh, and Sue Ellen Crosslea.
Allen said he decided to become involved because of his family’s connection to the bridge.
“David Bunker was my great-great-grandfather,” Allen said, “and this bridge is extremely important to me. If it wasn’t for that mill [Bunker Mill] and that bridge Kalona wouldn’t be here.”
The next step for the group will be to present a proposal to the Washington County supervisors asking for more time and consideration to save the bridge, Allen said.
Micheau said an agreement was signed with Julie Bowers from the North Skunk River Greenbelt Association’s Working Bridges. Bowers will have her experts, an engineer and an ironworker, come and evaluate the bridge, which would cost $5,000. Already, $1,000 has been raised.
There is one thing she would like the supervisors to know.
“They don’t have to fix it,” Micheau said. “Just let us do it. There’s no reason for not keeping the bridge.”
After the evaluation is done the group will know more about what the costs would be to renovate or rebuild Bunker Mill Bridge. Then they would seek ownership of the bridge until it is fully renovated or rebuilt, Micheau said.
She already has an idea for what could happen to that area once the bridge is done.
“I would like to see it become a county park,” she said. “It is such a beautiful wildlife area down there. It’s so pristine.”
Both Micheau and Allen will attend the supervisors meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
“Ultimately, they are the ones who decide what happens,” Allen said. “They are already letting bids for demolition and it could be gone. It’s not just bridging a river but bridging generations.”
Allen said he was pleased with all of the public officials, including the supervisors, who attended the meeting Tuesday night. He said this shows they’re thinking about the bridge and he hopes the supervisors listen to those who want to save the bridge.
Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius attended the meeting Tuesday night. He said he wanted to see the bridge saved but the condition of the bridge currently was too much of a liability since becoming damaged by fire on Aug. 11. If someone is to hurt himself or herself trying to cross the bridge, the county might be liable for any injuries that person may have received and could be sued. The county engineer’s department has received bids for the demolition of the bridge, and Thorius said the estimated cost is $80,000.
Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh will appear before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to give them a report from the public meeting held about saving Bunker Mill Bridge.