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Hackensack: Donations sought to repair Birch Lake fishing pier

The Hackensack fishing pier is a popular gathering place for events, including Bill Kennedy's weekly Kids Fishing Tournament every Tuesday. The sea wall at the pier, however, is in need of repair. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal1 / 4
The Hackensack fishing pier is a popular gathering place for events, including Bill Kennedy's weekly Kids Fishing Tournament every Tuesday. The sea wall at the pier, however, is in need of repair. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal2 / 4
The Hackensack fishing pier is a popular gathering place for events, including Bill Kennedy's weekly Kids Fishing Tournament every Tuesday. The sea wall at the pier, however, is in need of repair. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal3 / 4
The Hackensack fishing pier is a popular gathering place for events, including Bill Kennedy's weekly Kids Fishing Tournament every Tuesday. The sea wall at the pier, however, is in need of repair. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal4 / 4

Ask anyone in town - the Hackensack fishing pier attracts thousands of visitors a year for the weekly kids fishing tournament alone, not to mention other events throughout the year. But Bill Kennedy, who runs the event, said the pier is in dire need of repair for safety reasons.

It has been 18 years since the pier received its most recent reconstruction, which replaced most of the sea wall's creosote logs with tongue and groove. It's overdue for total replacement, however.

"The information I've been given was that this was built roughly 30 years ago," Kennedy said. "I talked to a DNR guy out of Park Rapids, a hydrologist, and he said according to permit records the tongue and groove was put in in 1999, at least on the south and west sides. He thought one side was still creosote railroad ties."

Kennedy's DNR contact, however, said the tongue and groove style of sea wall usually lasts about 15 years, and the ravages of age are visible. Along the edge of the sea wall are dips and holes where the soil has washed back into the lake. Kennedy said he nearly tripped in one such hole during a fishing contest recently. Damage is also obvious in the wooden structure, especially the southern section.

"The tongue and groove boards are falling apart and in some cases falling into the water and allowing the earth to seep back into the water and cause potholes along the edge," Kennedy said. "We lose earth every year. A lot of the pylons are damaged. They are falling apart or missing entirely. In a lot of cases there are rusty cables exposes. There is a lot of jagged wood too."

Kennedy is working with the city to seek donations to reconstruct the pier, currently estimated at $45,000 by one contractor.

"They said their construction would give us roughly a 30-year lifespan if we do it in wood," Kennedy said. "There are apparently three options. There is wood, steel and vinyl. Each one adds more life."

To raise the funds, Kennedy has started a GoFundMe page, which has earned more than $200 so far. With a long way to go, Kennedy is working on other sources as well. He and his group are looking for any grants that could be applied, as well as accepting donations sent to the kids fishing contest specifically dedicated to the pier. T

A benefit concert at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hackensack will feature Jesse MacDonald and Hannah Reitz performing pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johan Halvorsen, Sergei Pokofiev, Leonard Cohen and more. Kennedy said that while the concert is free, they are requesting a free will donation of $10-$15.

Kennedy hopes funds will be available to start construction in the fall of 2018.

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Donations

Send donations to repair the fishing pier to:

Hackensack Kids Fishing Contest, P.O. Box 103, Hackensack, MN 56452

or through https://www.gofundme.com/savehackpier.

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"The fall, because then we can do all the work and it will settle over the winter," Kennedy said. "In the spring they can do touch-ups where the ground sinks and seed it."

To Kennedy, whose father started the kids fishing contest at the pier long ago, the reconstruction of the sea wall is about protecting the children who flock there during the summer.

"It's a safety issue," Kennedy said. "This is a popular spot. A lot of people come here. Obviously with the Hackensack Children's Fishing Contest, we have roughly 1,000 kids over the summer plus family. We have to be about 3,000 people we bring to the spot every summer. It's hazardous at this point and we don't want to lose the spot. If we don't repair the wall, eventually we won't have the contest. People won't be excited to come here. It's a quaint and small town but we all take pride in it. Plus, the sun sets right over there every day (pointing across the lake from the pier) and it's the most beautiful sunset right here. People come here just to see the sunsets. It's gorgeous."

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