PIEDMONT -- Recreating history, the new bridge in Dracena Park -- and the dream of Eagle Scout Cole Becker -- was officially dedicated July 3 before a throng of visitors to the shady lush glen.
Becker, who will head to UC Berkeley in the fall, stood on one of the old bridge footings that was preserved on the site, and addressed the crowd.
"We used to stand here when we were kids and pretend to address thousands of people here and tell stories," he said. "Thanks a million times for supporting me. (I hope) the bridge connects the neighborhood and inspires years of imagination. This is ... big."
Becker first proposed the idea to build a wooden bridge with private funds spanning from Dracena Avenue to the steps leading up to Park Avenue as an Eagle Scout project that would enhance the aesthetics of the park and "bring back history." His proposal was reviewed and approved by the Park Commission and City Council last year.
A meandering creek was undergrounded at some point.
"Wouldn't it be fun to restore the creek to above ground?" former Mayor Valerie Matzger said. Jerry Herrick had been watching the progress as the new bridge was constructed quickly in a matter of a few weeks.
"I like the stonework and the ironwork," he said. "It didn't take 26 years like the Bay Bridge. It was on time and on budget."
The 65-foot-long redwood bridge has 42-inch-high safety railings. Its footings were purposely constructed with weathered stone to emulate the original bridge, Parks and Project Manager Mark Feldkamp said. In addition, the studs for the bridge's footbed are staggered for a more rustic look, he said.
The proposed bridge expense rose from about $40,000 to $75,000 because of unforeseen soil and other conditions. The money came from private donors such as the Lakeside Foundation, Ryan Costello Foundation and Piedmont Beautification Foundation. The Becker family made up the shortfall. Many of the construction companies involved donated in-kind or reduced-cost services, Mark Becker said.
The bridge will now be known as the Storyteller Bridge, with two plaques acknowledging donors and the bridge's history. Mark Becker said the name emerged when he and his son were kicking ideas around.
Mark Becker and Cole's grandmother, who came from Grass Valley for the dedication, are proud of the boy.
"Being smart just runs in the family," said Barbara "Nana" Becker, who pulled out of her pocket a photo of Cole's grandfather, who passed away in March.
She, her son Mark and grandson Cole are all left-handed, which contributes to that "right brain creativity," Barbara Becker said.
The dedication was marked with remarks from Park Commission chair Sue Herrick, Mayor Fujioka and Deborah Van Nest of the Piedmont Beautification Foundation. Ray Perman's Piedmont Community Band provided music.
The Becker family hosted a reception at their home across the street following the ceremony.
"(The bridge) is wonderful. It exceeded everyone's expectations. I knew it would be great, and it's even better," City Councilmember Bob McBain said.