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Sea Wing Park to be unveiled Thursday

Among the volunteers who've worked on the new Sea Wing Park in Diamond Bluff are John Norquist (left), Fred Haverlandt and Fred Ottem.

DIAMOND BLUFF -- Some dedicated volunteers have transformed a private serene spot along the Mississippi River into a public park.

The new Sea Wing Park, across from the Diamond Bluff Town Hall, will be dedicated at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Citizens have made $150,000 worth of improvements since the project began in 2003, according to Fred Ottem of the volunteer group.

"We started cleaning up the area for the Grand Excursion," Ottem said about a 2004 national event on the Mississippi River.

They completed cleanup in time for that attraction, serving as a kickoff for more extensive park development, he said. The nearly 2-acre parcel, with around 700 feet fronting the river, had been private property for many years, though the township always owned the adjacent levee.

Former Township Chairman Roger Wentz bought the necessary land from Marion Norquist.

One of the first jobs was straightening a road, which was too steep. Two handicap-parking spaces have been created in the park. The committee also added two piers.

"The park is being used for fishing," Ottem said. People also are watching birds as well as just sitting and viewing the passing boats, he added.

Sheepshead, catfish, carp, red sucker and walleye are among the species caught, said volunteer John Norquist, whose mother owned the land.

The committee credits Jason Fitzgerald of Goodhue with doing a "good job" on the piers. They're 30 feet long and 12 feet wide, built of limestone with blacktop on the top. Approved by the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, the piers' availability to the handicapped was of special interest to those agencies.

Playground equipment, including swings and teeter-totters, has been placed near the park and Town Hall. Plantings for screening purposes were finished, with help from Pierce County Master Gardeners.

Richard Holst of Bay City built eight heavy-duty picnic tables and two benches to join several others from Thomas and Betts Corp.

All these improvements came at no expense to the township, Ottem said. The Pierce County Board provided "seed money," and committee members secured grants from such sources as the National Scenic Byway and the DNR's sport fishing program.

Fred Haverlandt is the park committee chairman. He recounted all the paperwork and authorizations of the past six years -- environmental permits, an archaeological impact study, park plans and fundraisers - to realize this day.

One final feature will a kiosk, which Haverlandt, Norquist and Ottem envision will display donors names.

"This project has given us a real sense of community," Norquist said. "And it's been a lot of fun."