Rotten, broken, dangerous Goosepond bridge is repaired Volunteers contribute 2,500 hours of labor to restore popular hiking trail
The volunteer crew from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference enjoys the view from the newly rebuilt bridge over the Seely Brook (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)
By Frances Ruth Harris CHESTER — Volunteer trails worker Bob Fuller say the number to remember about the restoration of bridge at Goosepond Mountain State Park is 25: 2,500 hours of volunteer labor 2,500 eight-foot-long forms to support pouring the new arches 25 tons of hand mixed concrete, including 50 ten foot sections of rebar 25 tons of rock used to construct crib walls 25 tons of millings to surface the restored bridge Thanks to all that work, and all that material, hikers at Goosepond will now be able to traverse the trail over the Seely Brook in style — and in safety. Work first began when the Long Distance Trails Crew (LDTC) led by Chris Reyling, volunteer crew chief with New York New Jersey Trail Conference, cleared the access road and delivered supplies, including tons of concrete, rock, and millings. The trails crew did everything else, beginning on Jan. 27 to repair the bridge's hazardous, rotted decking. The Seely Brook starts from Walton Lake in Monroe and flows to the Hudson River. The actual restoration work began on July 14 and was completed on Oct. 6. The crew, which worked together like family, mixed by hand 580 80-pound bags of concrete requiring 500 feet of rebar and 3,600 pounds of water. They built 145 square feet of crib wall along with upstream and downstream rock dolphins, structures that extend above the water level but not connected to the banks. They spread, with machine help from park personnel, tons of millings to complete the bridge surface. The deepest pour into the side toward the center of the bridge required an eight-foot form. The finished bridge is 18 feet wide and 37 feet long. The project required almost twice as much concrete, rebar, and stone as originally estimated. Every time the crew cleared more of the existing structure to make ready for further renovation, they discovered it was in worse shape than they thought. It was possible to see light from one arch to the other in the middle of the bridge. Over the bridge and on to school Brenda Board Burgan read a message from her father, Clarence Board Jr., who grew up on the land that is now Goosepond Mountain State Park. His grandfather, Wicks Seely Board, was born in 1862. He was a milkman in Chester and raised seven children. Clarence Board Sr. was born in 1900, worked for Orange Oakland, and married Rosalie Mann. They built their house on Route 17M and raised five children. This is the same house the park ranger lives in today. Clarence Board Jr. and his wife, Nancy, built their house next to his parents' house on 17M in 1958. In 1963, Palisades Park bought this large tract of land, which included property from Route 17M to Large Road, including the Board houses. There were six active farms on Lazy Hill Road at the time. Clarence's parents were retired and planned to spend their remaining years in the home they built. Eventually they moved to Warwick. An old Board family cemetery in the park is in need of repair. There's also a cave where the outlaw Claudius Smith, “Cowboy of the Ramapos" (1736-1779) used to hide. Brenda's school bus would travel down Lazy Hill Road and cross the bridge over Seely Brook. In the early 1960s, Brenda's daughter took the same route to school. As Brenda and her sisters and brothers grew up, they swam and fished in Seeley Brook. Brenda's son David and his wife, Jane, made an impressive gift for the restoration of the bridge. Many others gave too. Brenda said she and her family are so happy to see the Seely Brook bridge re-built so that future generations may safely enjoy Goosepond Mountain State Park. A round of applauseThe crew enjoyed many thank-yous during the ceremony: Erick Garnjost, crew leader The New York State Office of Parks Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Recreation and Historic Preservation Jeff and Elizabeth Zahn and the many individual donors who made the bridge restoration financially possible The Bellvale Community The Palisades Interstate Park Commission The New York New Jersey Trail Conference Protection Fence Inc. The crew themselves thanked the more than 40 volunteers who made the project a success. “You guys and gals of the LDTC (Long Distance Trail Crew) did an amazing job of rebuilding the bridge," said financial point man Jeff Zahn at the ribbon cutting. "After the initial inspection, it became more and more apparent how damaged the bridge was. The LDTC never wavered. With limited time and funds, the crew did an incredible job of bringing the bridge back to life. With smart planning, teamwork, a ton of hard work and a few tons of concrete, we proclaim the undying gratitude of the community.” Everyone involved received certificates of appreciation. Tee shirts went to all Bellvale workers with a special thank you. A lifetime achievement award was given to Bob Fuller for his work with the crew. Liz and Jeff Zahn framed Eric Garnjost's expert drawing of the new Seeley Brook bridge and presented it to him with gratitude and joy.