New bridge dedicated at Stanley Park

WESTFIELD – A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony was held on Saturday for the Anderson Bridge in the Frank Stanley Beveridge Wildlife Sanctuary in Stanley Park.
Thanks to a generous donation by the Anderson family and public support of the fundraising effort, a first removable floating dock bridge has been installed at the site of the former damaged bridge. This is now accessible from the boardwalk area.
Amy Anderson, the daughter of Doug Anderson, said the family grew up on Overlook Drive near the park. She said being outside was very special to her Dad.
“It was his religion, his spirituality,” she said, adding that he spent a lot of time cross country skiing and playing tennis in the park.
Amy said it was her sister Julie’s idea to sponsor the bridge, which she called “a lovely way to honor him.” She said being an engineer, the idea of the breakaway bridge would have appealed to him. Both sisters now live in Los Angeles, and flew in for the dedication.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik, accompanied by his sons Thomas, 8, and Jack, 7, were also on hand for the ceremony. Knapik said he hadn’t seen Amy Anderson since high school. He said the occasion was “a tribute to a great man and all those folks who love the park.” Also attending was Beverly Wright, a close friend of the Andersons, and Julie’s godmother.
Amy and Julie Anderson unveiled a plaque at the bridge dedicated to their father, which read “This bridge is in memory of Doug Anderson, who loved to walk here.” Knapik, his sons, and Wright then joined Amy and Julie Anderson, and Stanley Park director Bob McKean to cut the ribbon at the bridge.
Before the dedication, McKean also talked about the annual Run/Walk Stanley 5k, which will be held this Sunday in the park. He said since 2013, Stanley Park has been raising funds to replace Wildlife Sanctuary trail bridges damaged and washed away in recent storms. He said the money raised Sunday will be put in a restricted account for the conservation area.
Race co-coordinator Vanessa Diana, an English professor at Westfield State University and founder of the Run Stanley 5k, spoke to those gathered, including a large contingent of WSU runners, calling the race, “One example of ways that we can give back to Stanley Park.” Diana, who also lives near to the park, decided something needed to be done after noticing the damage from the 2013 storms, and thought of the race. Also on hand were co-coordinator Alejandro Paredes and his daughter Sophia, who Diana called the person really in charge.
An additional bridge farther along the River Trail loop is needed to cross a marshy site where a second bridge was washed away. Raising the remaining funds needed for the second bridge is the goal of the third annual Run/Walk Stanley 5k on Sunday. Registration is from 8:30-10:30 at the Children’s Pavilion. There will be a ¾ munchkin run beginning at 10:30, a K-9 division, and walkers and runners for the 5K beginning at 11 a.m. Online registration is open until this Friday at www.runstanley.com. Diana said volunteers are also still needed to help.

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