KEARNEY — Washed away rip-rap and beach sand, garbage fish in the lake, ruined electrical equipment at the amphitheater — Kearney’s popular Yanney Heritage Park sustained much damage during the July 9 flood.
“It surprised me a little bit. It’s kind of crazy what water can do,” said Park and Recreation Director Scott Hayden.
Park staff have been restoring and repairing Yanney’s damages, but deductibles and limits on insurance mean all of the damage wasn’t covered. A fundraising campaign, which launched today, aims to cover some of the cost to repair damages that Hayden estimates at $50,000 for Yanney.
Before Sept. 30 the Yanney Heritage Park Foundation hopes to raise $25,000 in 25 days. The foundation’s goal is to collect $20,000 in donations for immediate repairs and another $5,000 for the park’s endowment for future maintenance and repairs.
Jon Watts, president of the park foundation, said damages were apparent immediately after the July 9 flood, but the board decided to wait several weeks until park users tended to damages at their own homes before asking them for help with the park’s problems.
Among the damages the foundation is seeking money for repairs are the lake, beach, shoreline, park shop, park grounds, ERC building and splash pads.
Watts said the lake’s fishery also may need attention because flooding brought unwanted fish species.
Fisheries experts with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission were consulted about the garbage fish washed into the lake by the floodwaters.
“We had assistance from Game and Parks. We’ll keep an eye on it and manage the fishery,” Hayden said. “Fishing definitely is one of the top uses at Yanney, along with the trail and splash pads.”
Watts said, “There also may be an algae problem.”
He encouraged park users to help by giving to the 25-day drive.
Hayden said repairing damage has been an exhaustive challenge, especially because the park staff wants Kearney’s facilities to always be at their best.
Hayden said floodwaters crept inside the ERC building and ruined the carpet, which was replaced along with some drywall.
Although the ERC building, which stands on the southwest shore of the lake, was mostly spared, there were $13,000 in damages to the electrical system at the Cope Amphitheater.
The lake also sustained damages, making bank stabilization and rip-rap replacement necessary.
“Around the Broadfoot Beach area a lot of the sand was washed away. We’re waiting until the winter when the ground is frozen to replace that,” Hayden said.
The park staff hoped to replace mechanical components in Yanney’s two splash pads this week. The system became filled with silt, and replacement parts were scheduled to arrive today.
“Our hope is to get it fixed and started up for the last two weeks of the season,” Hayden said.
The park shop is on the south side of Yanney and had three feet of floodwater, but park staffers repaired all the flooded lawnmowers stored in the shop. Mitzi’s Pavilion on the west side of the park had no damage.
You can give online through Paypal or in person, by mail or over the phone, by visiting the Yanney Heritage Park Foundation office, 412 W. 48th St. Suite 12, or calling 308-237-3114.