Just in time for sunbathing season, the public beach at Hodag Park is getting a facelift thanks to a pair of generous donations.
Mussons Brothers recently donated 14 loads of sand to help rebuild Hodag Beach, the parks, buildings and grounds committee learned June 26.
At that same meeting, the committee also accepted a $5,000 grant from the Rhinelander Community Foundation for the purchase of two docks to be placed alongside the swimming area.
The donated sand was a much-needed shot in the arm for the beach which has deteriorated due to erosion, according to parks, buildings and grounds director Jeremy Biolo.
"It was unbelievable, they just said come take whatever you think you want," Biolo said. "So on Friday (June 23), I worked with (public works director) Tim Kingman and we got a couple city trucks and drivers and we brought in 14 loads of beach sand. I did kind of a low estimate and it was about $3,190 worth of sand, all for free, that Mussons gave us. That was pretty darn generous of that company."
Biolo said some of the sand has been spread out on the existing beach, but the bulk is still awaiting placement.
"Tom Froehlich has been super busy, but he's really good at (operating) the grader. I left some big piles up there so he can use the grader to put a really nice top dressing on the beach," Biolo explained.
He said the sand placed along the wall below the beach house was packed in fairly well and survived the rain that fell afterward.
"We didn't use mason sand, we used a little coarser sand that we hope maybe weighs a little more (so it will stay in place better), Biolo said. "I just don't want to see that beach fall to the wayside, we want to get that to be a decent beach in Rhinelander, and I think we can do it."
Biolo said he will work with the DNR to see if the city can land some grants to upgrade the facility. He is also going to start working with the DNR on ways to keep the erosion from eating away the new sand.
"We're having trouble with that beach, it's really starting to get worn out on that side of the waterway from the waves hitting it," Biolo said. "So I think we're going to slide everything down a little bit."
This might require moving everything over about 50 feet to the right, including moving some of the sand to smooth out and expand the entire beach, he said, adding that this work would probably be done in time for next summer.
The grant for the two docks will eventually result in the swimming area of the beach being situated in a way similar to how the beach was set up in the past.
"I've been working with Gina Heck of the Rhinelander Community Foundation to try to get a couple docks," Biolo said. "They originally were going to Shepard Park, but there was going to be some complications getting them into the river. That area was a little deeper than I had thought, which would have cost a more money for the posts and leggings and everything."
He said as he was working on the beach, he went through some old photos that showed docks on both sides of the swimming area.
"That really kind of cleaned up that beach a little bit, so I was thinking that the new docks there would work, So I asked Gina if the foundation would go ahead with that idea," he said. "They actually just OK'd it last week, but now they want an official proposal and everything from me. I just got the quote, and it's $5,050, so our net cost would be $50."
Biolo said the docks would be put in at the ends of the existing beach, but would be moved next summer when the beach is shifted.
Alderperson Dawn Rog said there was a recurring problem with the old docks.
"There was something at the end, like a barrier, and they became bicycle launching docks with that ramp there," Rog said.
"Sounds kind of fun," remarked alderman Alex Young.
"It was driving the lifeguards absolutely nuts," Rog replied. "And apparently there was a lot of stolen bicycles that were laying at the bottom of the river there. So is there something you could look at to maybe prevent that from happening in the future?"
"If we shift everything over, then you will have to go through the sand to get to the docks," Biolo responded.
He added that the water will only be about 3-feet deep at the end of the 13-foot docks with a 4-foot approach.
"So if there is launching, they're going to hurt themselves," Biolo said. "So I will have a sign made for the docks."
This shallow water will also preclude diving from the docks, he added.
Biolo said the purpose of the docks is to allow the lifeguards the ability to work out alongside swimmers to keep an eye on them better.
The committee voted unanimously to accept the grant.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at email@example.com.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce