Five Rivers MetroParks will spend as much as $390,465 to repair a tree tower and observation deck that closed in September after being damaged by fungal disease.
The Board of Park Commissioners this week approved a change order with Stull Woodworks Inc. to remove and replace the three logs supporting the Tree Tower at Cox Arboretum MetroPark.
The tower was originally built by Solica for about $475,000, according to records obtained by this newspaper, and Stull Woodworks was a subcontractor on the project. The tower’s instability issues arose less than four years after it opened.
“We’re focusing on understanding the problem and solving it right now,” said Carrie Scarff, chief of planning and projects with Five Rivers MetroParks.
In September, MetroParks crews noticed soft spots in the wood of the tree tower during regular maintenance work.
The issue was not identified earlier because the fungus, called brown rot, grew inside the wood, officials said.
The 65-foot tall tower was closed because of concerns about instability and safety. The tower is a popular attraction.
MetroParks hopes the tower will be repaired and will reopen by the end of the year. The contract with Stull, which guarantees the project will not cost more than $390,465, includes the purchase of materials, site work and disassembly of the tower.
“We’re only replacing what has been subjected to the fungus, which is the three support columns,” Scarff said.
The tower, designed by Dayton architectural firm Earl Reeder Associates, was made with wood from a Douglas fir and features a spiraling wooden staircase and an observation deck providing panoramic views.