New Ox Bow tower plans unveiled - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

New Ox Bow tower plans unveiled

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Today the Elkhart Parks Department unveiled plans for a new Ox Bow tower.

They've started holding fundraisers and still need $170,000 to complete the project.

So far, the community hasn't let anything stand in the way of bringing the tower back.

When the Ox Bow tower burnt down, the odds were only about 50-50 that the Parks Department would rebuild the iconic landmark.

With no public funding available,  things weren't looking good.

But a rebuild quickly became priority #1 for the Elkhart Park Board.

"Really what sparked the Park Board to rebuild this was the response from the community," said Elkhart Park Board Member Larry Andrews.

Leading the way, the running community did its job to jump-start public support by holding a 5k run last November.

Race Director Katrina Godzisz was shocked when more than 275 people showed up for the race.

"We were overwhelmed.  We were pre-registered for probably about half of what actually showed up.  We doubled the registration that day, it was like ants coming over the hill.  They just kept coming and coming, we were so appreciative," Godzisz said.

But the support didn't stop there.  Students at Ox Bow Elementary have been holding "Tower Tuesdays" to raise money for the cause as well.

If students brought in a donation of 50 cents, they were able to participate in the special days.

"The first one we had was Top-hat Tuesday, and that went really well.  And then we had Pajama Day," said Ox Bow student Meaghan Godzisz.

Ox Bow's students had been using the old tower as a center-point for their end-of-year Field Day for the past 25 years.

This year, the students will have no tower to climb.

"I remember that the old tower was very much fun and I used to go up on it all the time.  I really want the new one to be built because I'm really sad that the old one is gone," Meaghan said.

The connection runs deep for Meaghan Godzisz and her brother, Matthew.

The 9 year-old and 6 year-old are students, but also runners.

"They both run about a 3k, which is about 1.86 miles," said proud mom Katrina Godzisz.

With a new design and tower location made public Thursday, the County Parks Board says it's time to set a goal.

"Our goal would be to complete the campaign this summer and start construction yet this fall.  Ambitious goals, but we have to set those goals and make them ambitious in order to meet that goal," Andrews said.

What once was a long-shot, now seems inevitable.

Tower Tuesdays have raised $1500 for the rebuild effort.

Runners from around the area will be pleased to hear that there will be a 2nd-annual Tower Run 5k, held on June 24th.

Once again, First-Place Trophy will donate finisher medals for the race.

The business community has gotten in on the act as well.

In support of the rebuild, RW Armstrong and Ancon Construction removed the burnt

remnants of the old tower and designed the new tower free of charge.

The new tower will be 63 feet tall, and the first level will be handicap accessible.

It will be built upon a steel base to prevent vandalism.

Wood will only be used on the stairs and the landing.

"We're a huge community partner so this was just a testimony to our service to the community.  The biggest thing was to make the tower not burnable, so we used steel and concrete for the superstructure," said Ancon Construction Architect Matthew Vansoest.

The old tower was made of redwood and was built in the 1970s.

It burned to the ground last July in an apparent act of vandalism.

The Prosecutors Office is still working the case, but no arrests have been made.

Follow Dave on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/DaveS_Fox28

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