Union volunteers build new observation deck at Washtenaw Community College

ANN ARBOR—A new waterfront dock and observation platform built by Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers on the Washtenaw Community College campus will offer educational and recreational benefits to students, faculty, and the public.

The 10-by-16-foot structure, pictured above, features a 16-foot bench where people can stop to view water birds and other wildlife on a scenic five-acre pond, according to Tony Esposito, technical director of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting, and Sprinkler Fitting Industry programs at the Great Lakes Regional Training Center on the WCC campus. The deck also provides a safe and dry station for biology students to conduct studies.

“This project at WCC is one of perseverance,” said USA director of union relations Walt Ingram. “Since the first conversation between the UA Training Center and WWC in 2017, there have been many hurdles, but staff members of the USA, WCC, UA Local 190, and UA International kept the effort moving forward through each stage of planning, design, permitting, and construction. The result is a superb structure at a great location for college students and the community to learn from and enjoy the natural world.”

Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, union apprentice and journeyman volunteers representing UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 190, Sheet Metal Workers Local 80, and Operating Engineers Local 324 donated 175 hours of skilled labor, valued at nearly $10,000, to build the dock, in addition to more than 200 more hours in planning and logistics. Materials for the dock were purchased by the college and funds from the USA’s annual UA and Milwaukee Tool Ann Arbor Conservation Dinner.

“Getting people in the mechanical trades together to build something for WCC’s biology students and community members to use was an awesome experience,” said UA Local 190 Training Director Andy Fielder, who led the project. “It was the first Work Boots on the Ground conservation project I’ve been part of, and I enjoyed it very much. I’d gladly do it again.”

With the construction phase complete, plans for a dedication ceremony are under way, according to Esposito. “It will be dedicated as the Scott Klapper Overlook, named for my predecessor here at the training center,” he said. “Scott has a long history with WCC and was among those who initially got the project off the ground.”

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot, and volunteer their skills for conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. More information at www.unionsportsmen.org. Work Boots on the Ground is a USA conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks, and mentor youth in the outdoors.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance union volunteers donated 175 hours to construct an observation platform overlooking a 5-acre pond on the Washtenaw Community College campus. USA photo.

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