Sharon Gibbs wears a mask as she trains her dogs Lucy, left, and Jorja on Nov. 10, on the bulkhead above the Kennebec River in Granite City Park in Hallowell. The bulkhead has been ordered closed until the decking can be repaired in the spring. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

HALLOWELL — The city’s bulkhead at Granite City Park was ordered closed until the spring after City Council action Monday, pending repairs to the bulkhead’s decking.

Repairs to the boardwalk decking at Granite City Park are budgeted not to exceed $75,000, all but $17,000 of which is from tax increment financing funds. The rest of the funding will come from a $15,000 grant and $2,000 from the city’s general fund.

In October, Hallowell received an AARP grant to install a ramp at the bulkhead to allow easier access to the boardwalk.

City Manager Nate Rudy said current estimates are coming in around $74,000 for materials and labor.

City Councilors voted unanimously on Monday to close the bulkhead and post notices of its closure at the site. City Councilor Michael Frett also presented the idea of using netting to close off the bulkhead, but that decision was not finalized Monday.

City Public Works Foreman Chris Buck said the work will be done by B.H. Builders as soon as it is warm enough to start.

The boardwalk is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax in the city’s brightly-colored Adirondack chairs and take in views of the Kennebec River. Recently, Rudy said, some people have reported creaky boards in the decking, which prompted needs for repair.

“We’ve had some reports that people have hit some creaky boards and there’s been one person whose foot went through a board,” he said, adding that there were no serious injuries reported due to the decking.

This Nov. 10 file photo shows plywood patches covering holes in bulkhead deck at Hallowell’s Granite City Park. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

Buck said the risk for injury at the boardwalk may increase as snow and ice obscure views of the decking beneath.

“People will walk out there and we just don’t want … (to get hurt) if there’s a rotten board that falls through,” Buck said.

The boardwalk’s decking is currently made of pressure-treated wood. Rudy said the new decking will be “marine-grade timber” that should hold up a little better with the occasional flooding to which the boardwalk is subject.

When the decking was installed, Rudy said, pressure-treated wood had a longer typical lifespan, but that guidance changed since then.

“Around the time that the work was done the formula for pressure treated wood changed and the life expectancy of pressure-treated wood went down,” he said. “Our recommendation is that we try the marine grade timber this time.”

The bulkhead was finished in June 2008, according to City Clerk Diane Polky. In September 2015, Buck wrote in a monthly report that some of the deck boards were starting to rot and about 240 feet of boards were replaced of the total 4,512-square-foot area. Buck’s report also said the city should begin thinking about replacing all the boards.

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