Boat dock at Fairbanks Park remains closed indefinitely

The Terre Haute Parks & Recreation Department says the boat dock at Fairbanks Park remains closed indefinitely.

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 7:45 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department says the boat dock at Fairbanks Park remains closed indefinitely. The superintendent says he's not sure when, or if, the dock will open. Ice floes heavily damaged the dock earlier this week. 

The city named the boat dock after former mayor Ralph Tucker. It opened in May of 1992. Nearly 26 years later, the once large dock is nearly left in ruins. On Friday, Parks crews used cables to secure the dock and ran them to large trees and metal posts. This is to keep what's left of the dock from floating downstream. Some parts of the dock already have. 

Jon Certain says he's frequently used the dock since it's opened. 

"I like to go catfishing," Jon told me. "I come here and enjoy myself on a nice day."

Jon wonders what's next for the dock. Will the city repair or replace it? Will they do away with a dock here altogether. We posed those questions to Superintendent Eddie Bird.

"I don't know where we'll go from here," Bird admitted. "We don't budget for things like this."

According to a marker we found near the dock, it was made possible by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources through the Indiana Waters Fishing and Boating Access Program. It was dedicated during the Pete Chalos administration. 

After watching park crews continue their work securing what's left of the dock, Bird told me, "I would hate to put a bunch of money into this dock and the same thing happens next year."

And that's a definite possibility.

News 10 reached out to city engineer Chuck Ennis. He told us more ice floes are likely now that Duke Energy's Wabash Generating Station is shut down. He said when it operated, the plant used lots of river water to cool the turbines. It would, in turn, put lots of warm water back out into the river. This would prevent it from freezing, even in extreme temperatures.

Now that the generating statiton is done, Ennis said the river will likely freeze every winter. That's why Bird favors buying a new dock for Fairbanks Park, one that can be removed every winter. He says they're looking into the cost of both repairing the current dock and replacing it.

Jon says he just hopes to see a dock at Fairbanks Park when the weather breaks. 

"It makes it safer for people to get in and out of their boats," Jon said. "especially if you have a lot of gear you're transporting." 

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