Even before the deck and benches around the Central Park oak tree were set on fire in March by a still-unknown arsonist, the popular fixture was showing signs of wear.
On Tuesday, a metal chain-link fence surrounded the tree and part of the deck, as it has for months, while gaping, sawed holes in the surface of the deck are plainly visible where burn damage used to be. About half of the benches are removed, but the venerable oak tree seems unscathed and filled with green foliage.
The undamaged part of the deck has seen better days. Screw heads stick up from their holes; the wood is faded, weak-looking and warped in places. Metal flashing on the edges of the steps sometimes juts away from the wood, a ready hazard.
All the while, locals wonder what is going on.
Christine Helweg, a city of Davis parks and community services superintendent, has an answer.
In an email, Helweg said the city is in the process of getting a second landscape design firm’s estimate on what should be done and how much money it will cost — a “second opinion,” as she called it. Until then, the city doesn’t really know how much money it will take, whether the insurance policy will cover all expenses and how far it needs to go to comply with current Americans With Disabilities Act accessibility standards.
“Upon further evaluation, due to the age of the structure, the city is now required to make the amenity fully code-compliant with all current ADA requirements,” Helweg wrote. “This could potentially include modifying the slopes of the existing ramps, adding handrails to the ramps and stair areas, and adding a six-inch curb along the outside perimeter of the deck.”
The city must have a quote from a second landscape design firm to qualify for an insurance disbursement as well, Helweg said in an interview.
“We are very much aware that this structure is a beloved amenity of Central Park, and the community is very interested in getting this feature reopened as soon as possible,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, much of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ information takes a while to sift through before we can proceed with the actual reconstruction.
“We have received numerous volunteer offers to assist with the rebuild, and as soon as we know what will actually be constructed, then we can determine what components, if any, can be assisted with volunteer workers.”
Helweg said local service groups and some individuals have come forward with offers to help.
In a few weeks, the city should get its second estimate. Thereafter, a selection can be made and the design work can begin, with construction slated for the fall.
— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews