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Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center’s new deck needs repair

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Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 11:55 pm

FAIRBANKS — After taking months to install, the new deck at the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center still isn’t quite done.

Parts of the deck, which hasn’t been particularly popular with the skiing community but will allow greater summertime use of the facilities, were custom made but now need to be removed and sent to the Lower 48 to be treated for the weather.

The repair will occur in the spring after the end of the ski season and take a few weeks, said Parks and Recreation Facilities Superintendent John Haas. The additional work is needed because some of the parts were built specifically for the deck and aren’t galvanized like the rest of the structure.

“They had some problems with the design and not all the components met up, so they had to fabricate some pieces on site and those pieces don’t meet the spec for being galvanized,” he said. “They have to be shipped off, but we’re trying to fit it in between the ski season and the wedding season.”

Haas said the extra work won’t add to the cost of the project.

The metal deck hasn’t been particularly popular with some members of the skiing community and the word of additional work has been cause for added frustration.

Birch Hill is maintained jointly by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, and its co-president Bruce Jamieson said the construction has been a “minor disruption” for skiers but that it’s largely because of low snow levels early in the year.

“I actually wasn’t in favor of the deck because I didn’t see it would be a good expenditure of money and we just don’t need a deck during the wintertime,” he said. “But talking to people outside of the skiing community, they thought it would be extremely useful.”

Use of the 200-acre recreation site has grown in recent years, and borough officials say a large number of residents used the facilities at Birch Hill during the past year. In addition to miles of ski trails, the facility offers summertime activities, such as disk golf, biking and weddings.

Haas said users shouldn’t notice the additional work.

“It wouldn’t affect the ski season,” he said. “Skiers won’t notice that there’s an issue because the time we have it scheduled, they’ll have left the building and will be on their mountain bikes.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544.

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