MetroParks seeking fix to Cox Arboretum tree tower safety issues

The Tree Tower at Cox Arboretum MetroPark in Miami Twp. is closed now because of safety concerns. The observation tower, which rises 46 feet above the ground, was designed by Belgian landscape architect Francois Goffinet. The original groundbreaking took place on Nov. 30, 2011. STAFF PHOTO BY LISA POWELL

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The Tree Tower at Cox Arboretum MetroPark in Miami Twp. is closed now because of safety concerns. The observation tower, which rises 46 feet above the ground, was designed by Belgian landscape architect Francois Goffinet. The original groundbreaking took place on Nov. 30, 2011. STAFF PHOTO BY LISA POWELL

The Tree Tower at the Cox Arboretum MetroPark closed in early September because of safety concerns after maintenance crews identified soft spots in the logs.

On Friday, the Five Rivers MetroParks board of commissioners approved issuing a request for proposals to develop and execute a repair plan for the popular attraction.

The $500,000 tower, which opened in October 2012, has a 45-foot high observation deck that provides a 360-degree view of the MetroPark.

Officials said they do not know when the tower might reopen, but said it will not open until it is stable and completely safe.

“We are working with consultants to develop the plan to address the logs,” said Carrie Scarff, chief of planning and projects for MetroParks.

On Sept. 7, crews were conducting regular maintenance on the 65-foot tall tower when they noticed soft spots in the three support logs.

The tower is inspected daily, but soft spots were able to develop without earlier detection because of fungus that grew inside the wood, officials said.

The tower was immediately closed and an analysis by wood and engineering experts determined the structure’s support logs need to be replaced before it can be reopened to the public.

On Friday, the MetroParks board of commissioners authorized the organization to solicit bids for a firm to repair the tower.

The tower, designed by Dayton architectural firm Earl Reeder Associates, was constructed with wood from a Douglas fir. It features a spiraling wooden staircase and an observation deck providing panoramic views.

The landscape and gardens surrounding the soon-to-be repaired tower were designed by Belgian landscape architect Francois Goffinet.

The Cox Arboretum MetroPark is at 6733 Springboro Pike.

MetroParks covered about half the cost of the tower. About 400 donors also contributed to the project.

“We’ll work very hard to get this solved as quickly as possible and get it back in the public’s service,” she said.

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