Resting about four feet off the ground on a flatbed trailer, the fate of Central Park’s gazebo is in limbo.
A new stage and bathroom facility will take its place, and the gazebo was originally slated for demolition.
However, enough citizens expressed concern about the gazebo’s sentimental value, in part because of all of the Marion High School alumni that walked across it in the past, that city officials decided to try to preserve it and repurpose it if possible.
“I haven’t looked at the damage myself,” Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said Monday. “The guys said they thought they could fix it, so we will go with the crew’s recommendation.”
In a collaborative effort involving city, county road and bridge, and Hett Construction employees, the gazebo was detached from its foundation last week and reinforced with braces. Three front loaders and one forklift lifted it off the ground high enough for a flatbed trailer to be positioned underneath it.
Once the trailer was in place, operators lowered the gazebo onto the flatbed and strapped it in place. All the while, the crew took precautions, knowing that termites had ravaged some of its wood.
“The termite damage is pretty bad,” City Street Superintendent Marty Fredrickson said. “It was the worst under the stage area. In its condition, it has maybe 10 years left in it, if we can get it off the trailer without it falling apart.”
“You have 30 years of Marion High School graduates that walked across it, so it’s got some sentimental value,” Fredrickson said.
Heitschmidt and city administrator Roger Holter have discussed several options.
“Some think there are too many structures in the park already and I can’t disagree with them, that’s their opinion,” Heitschmidt said. “Our decision comes, in part, along with our new recycling program. We’d like to reuse the gazebo to get as much out of it as we can.”
The current plan is to move the gazebo to the west part of the park near Luta Creek and a utility shed, in an area where the beer garden was located last year at Chingawassa Days.
Although some trees were trimmed in the initial phase and more “minimal trimming” may occur, no park trees will be cut down to facilitate this option, Heitschmidt said.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “If our first option doesn’t work, there are other parks we could transport it to if we can get it out of the park. There’s no hurry. We have time to make that decision.”
If the gazebo remains in Central Park, it will likely become a seating and picnic area, but it might also function as part of the beer garden during Chingawassa Days.
As for the gazebo’s bathrooms, Heitschmidt said they will probably function as storage space, since there is no plan to hook up running water to the structure.
“If we can get this done with minimal cost and effort we will do it, but if we find that it’s not worth it, unfortunately we will have to get rid of it,” Heitschmidt said. “As for the new bathrooms/stage, we hope to have them finished by Chingawassa Days, if not sooner.”