06-08 park closed

Trees felled by storms have blocked, and possibly damaged, bridge features at Steven Bennett Park.

Storm damage has temporarily closed two scenic and iconic features of Palestine's Steven Bennett Park: the picturesque wooden bridge and nature boardwalk trail.

City Manager Leslie Cloer told the Herald-Press Thursday she hopes to reopen the areas within a few weeks. Wet and marshy conditions, however, are making the removal of storm debris difficult.

Several trees have fallen along the boardwalk. Storm debris, such as branches, leaves, and trash, have washed up around the creek area.

“We will have to wait until the grounds dry up before we can safely bring in equipment and remove all the debris,” Cloer said.

Injury from debris is not the city's only concern. Indigenous wildlife, such as snakes, rodents, and venomous insects may inhabit the trees and brush washed into the area by recent storms.

Unrelenting rains have made May 2018 through April 2019 the wettest 12 months in U.S. history.

City officials hope to have the areas reopened before the annual Fourth of July fireworks show, traditionally held at Steven Bennett Park.

“Safety is, of course, our primary concern,” Cloer said. “Once the debris is cleared, we will have to have an engineer inspect the bridges and make sure they are structurally sound, before we open them back up to the public.”