After decades of use by residents, one of two shelters at Sandy Beach is being restored this summer and rebuilt by Petersburg’s Parks and Recreation Department. KFSK’s Robbie Feinberg headed to the park to get an update on the site’s construction.

A snapshot of some logs being used to rebuild a shelter at Sandy Beach

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Dave Nauman works for Petersburg’s Parks and Recreation Department, and he’s worked on all sorts of stuff – trails, ball fields, cabins. But the one place that he’s wanted to fix up for a long is the shelter at Sandy Beach.

Nauman has seen the damage that nature has imposed on the building. He shows off some of the logs from the old shelter. He takes his knife and sticks it straight through, peeling off layer after layer of rotting wood.

“And the logs here, you can just see, with my pocket knife, they’re just super rotten,” Nauman said. “I’m just tearing the log apart. And so, there’s just zero structural integrity in the corner. And as soon as you lose the corner, you lose the structure.”

The shelter is used constantly by Petersburg residents – for barbecues, birthdays, events right on the water. The other shelter at Sandy Beach was only recently rebuilt in 2009, but this one hasn’t been worked on in decades. Nauman says that with so many rotten logs in the structure, it was dangerous.

“It wasn’t as safe as it looked, you know,” Nauman said. “And the truth is it’s all a guess. We probably could have gone another five or ten years, or only six months. But a big wind storm, an act of god, who knows?”

Nauman says it was a disaster waiting to happen. And he didn’t want to leave the fate of the building up to Mother Nature. So when the opportunity came for him to fix up the area, he took advantage.

“My boss came to me a couple of years ago asking me for Capital Improvement Projects for the Parks and Rec department,” Nauman says. “And I mentioned that the logs on this shelter were getting pretty rotten and it was getting kinda racked. So we put into the state for a grant, and we got it.”

Nauman says the $55,000 project has required about a year of preparation. First, he had to get permissions. Then he had to come up with a design and get it passed. After that, the old shelter needed to be torn down and new materials needed to be purchased before construction could really begin.

As of now, Nauman’s still in the early building stages. He’s constructing the first few layers of the shelter, which will consist of large logs laying lengthwise over a concrete foundation.

“My goal for this project is to have it done before the snow falls. December first, I get laid off from the borough. And I’d like to have it done this fall,” Nauman says. “It’s getting the walls up to the right elevation. And then it’s getting the trusses up and gables and ridge poles. And that’ll all be done out of logs, too. I’ll construct those and bring them over here and install them.”

Nauman adds that he’s trying to keep the project as under budget as possible, because if there’s money remaining, he says the department will use it to fix up the worn-down trails behind the shelter.

But while Nauman has spent most of his time at the shelter on construction and restoration, he says he’s also trying to become a bit of a historian, too. Nauman says that Sandy Beach has played a significant part in Petersburg’s history, and he wants to learn as much as he can about it.

“The rumor is that the Civilian Conservation Corps originally built these structures out here, and the chimneys, and poured these floors,” Nauman says. “There’s a date in the other shelter, shelter one, of 1942 or 43, I think. So that’s as close as I’ve gotten, and that’s as much history as I’ve gotten. I don’t know if when it’s been rebuilt, in the interim. But if anybody has any information, I’d love to hear it.”

If you have any information about the history of the Sandy Beach shelter, call the Parks and Recreation department at 907-772-4224.