GOSHEN — Things are starting to get real for the planned reconstruction of the iconic Ox Bow Park Tower.
Its been nearly four years since the original 1972 redwood observation tower, beloved by visitors of Ox Bow Park for decades, was destroyed by fire through an act of arson in July 2010.
Due to the fact that the tower was not covered by Elkhart County’s insurance, officials with the Elkhart County Parks Department have spent the past few years trying to find ways to fund the historic tower’s reconstruction. And according to Elkhart County Parks Superintendent Scott VanOmeran, it appears those efforts have finally paid off.
During a special meeting of the Park Board held in late April, the board voted in favor of accepting a quote from Ancon Construction for the tower’s reconstruction in the amount of $120,343.
“The proposal was based on our design and some specifications the Parks Department had put together,” said VanOmeran. “That proposal from Ancon was approved, and that will include two of our main goals: a steel substructure with columns and beams, and then ADA access on the first platform, where there will be a ramp that will go out to the first platform.”
While admittedly a hefty sum, VanOmeran said the cost does align with what the department was predicting for the tower’s replacement — a fact VanOmeran attributes to the close relationship the department has had with Ancon since the tower’s destruction in 2010.
“Ancon has been involved with this since the tower burned, so over the years they have provided several designs and estimates,” VanOmeran said. “So yes, it came in right at what we thought.”
As for what the tower will look like when completed, VanOmeran said while the overall look of the tower will be fairly similar to its predecessor, it will include a number of upgrades and new amenities that should be well received by the public.