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NEWS | Aug. 8, 2022

652nd Engineer Company lays foundation for Wisconsin’s Freedom Park

By Catrina Francis 416th Theater Engineer Command

For the second consecutive year, units from the 416th Theater Engineer Command, which includes the 652nd Engineer Company from Hammond, Wisconsin, worked toward completing the Freedom Park Trail and building in New Richmond.

Working on the park and trail have provided units with an opportunity to continue a mission that began last year.

In 2021, the 612th Engineer Detachment Utilities from Duluth, Minnesota, went to Freedom Park to import field materials to raise the building site to the proper grade with the proper field materials for construction.

“They took a sloped piece of land and made a flat spot at the right grade for the building to be built,” explained Maj. Michael Dyrdahl, the 367th Engineer Battalion operations officer. “[They] also kicked off the Freedom Park Trail project, [which was] the 625 Multi-ridge Bridge Company [that] initiated efforts for the first leg of the trail. Phase two was to get as far as we could get on the Freedom Park trail [and] completion was the goal, but weather is dependent because it gets muddy when it rains.”

Dyrdahl added that in the past two months about 75% to 80% of trail has been completed and 100% of the footing, foundation, installation and backfill of the building has been completed, which means that footing and foundation are in place and ready for the construction of the building.

“This [will be] a 18,000 square foot community building owned by the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” he said. “They own the land, funding, the materials, and general contracting support. We are bringing the labor.”

He added that the building will be used for various purposes by the VFW, American Legion and provide other services for the New Richmond community.

Dyrdahl said they plan to continue construction around mid-April 2023, which includes overseeing operations as well as construction. He said the first constructing unit should arrive around May 1 with a projected completion date by Sept. 15, 2023.

“The first thing in the spring there are some interior footings that need to be dug in and poured,” Dyrdahl said. “We didn’t put those in this year because they are shallow footings, and the frost would have pushed them around and it was unsafe to do that this year. We will also trench for all the electrical and plumbing and then the wiring. Once that’s done, we will pour the concrete floor and construction will ensue.”

Although the construction and trail completion will be done over three years, Dyrdahl said working with industry professionals is great experience for Soldiers and provides the unit with valuable engineer training working on a real project.

“I see this as a [chance to] improve our readiness [and] work with private partners for the latest and greatest best practices,” Dyrdahl said. “Our Soldiers are working with industry professionals, and [that] helps us refine our game and take us to the next level.”