Occasionally accompanied by other members of their family, Colonel Brad Wambeke and Emilie successfully constructed the 24-foot-long bridge, which can carry more than 15 tons. The duo spent 10-12-hours a day on construction and finished the project in a week and a half.
“The work started by the cadets, and finished by Colonel Wambeke, his daughter Emilie, and their family is a testament to the love and community support that keeps this park thriving,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “OSI has worked to protect and improve Fahnestock State Park for more than 20 years and we are proud to support the work of others who are providing the park with an infusion of energy and much-needed repairs.”
“State Parks is grateful to partner with OSI and the West Point Cadets on this project to improve Fahnestock State Park for future visitors,” said Taconic Regional Director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Linda Cooper. “This wonderful story highlights how a range of partnerships with private organizations, volunteers, and community members ensure that our parks are the best that they can be.”
“While the cadets were unable to construct the bridge due to Covid-19, I was impressed by their design and am certain that they would have been more than capable to implement it. We kept the cadets (now 2nd
Lieutenants in the US Army) updated after each day’s work, which is something I think they appreciated,” said Colonel Wambeke, Director of Civil Engineering at West Point. “However, this change in plans provided me with an opportunity to spend time with my daughter, which makes this bridge even more special to me. Now, during our family hikes at Fahnestock, we will walk over a bridge we helped build.”
Emilie, a rising college junior who is majoring in Interior Design, was more than happy to get outside and help her dad complete the project, “While it was unfortunate that the cadets were not able to see their project to completion, I felt fortunate to be able to spend that extra one-on-one time with my dad.”
“This new bridge is another beautiful reminder of how important partnerships and volunteerism are to the success of our state parks. I am especially impressed with Colonel Wambeke and his daughter Emilie who picked up where the West Point students left off, working more than a week to complete the project. The collaboration that resulted in this this trail bridge will be appreciated by park visitors for decades to come,” said Lucy Waletzky, chair of the Taconic Regional State Parks Commission and the New York State Council of Parks.
OSI provided more than $14,000 toward the project from its Waletzky State Parks Fund for bridge materials, while OPRHP obtained the appropriate permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and helped with site preparation and moving the large structural beams.
Fahnestock’s West Point bridges each have a distinct style which reflects the needs of the setting and the design preferences of each class. The bridge constructed last year was a raised flat bridge with a prominent “A” design incorporated into the railings. This year’s bridge was a multi-use arch suspension bridge, designed for equestrian use and to reduce streambank erosion.