Archive for Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Volunteers who raised funds years ago question potential demise of gazebo

November 28, 2007

The gazebo that has provided shade for more than 20 years at the Tonganoxie swimming pool was built with the help of local volunteers and money raised by the community.

But now the gazebo might be coming down as construction of the new swimming pool continues.

During the Nov. 13 City Council meeting, council members and City Administrator Mike Yanez discussed three possibilities for the gazebo: Fixing it, replacing it or tearing it down altogether.

"I personally think we need to have that gazebo. It serves a lot of purposes," said Council member Steve Gumm. "I personally would hate to see it go away. For all of the money we spend on other projects, a gazebo can't cost that much."

While Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal and other council members wanted a new gazebo at the new pool, others like longtime Tonganoxie resident Betty Stevens don't want to see the gazebo moved at all.

"I was upset that they were going to tear it down," Stevens said.

On Monday, Stevens brought a packet of information about the gazebo to City Hall. The packet summarized the history of the gazebo and included news clips with stories about how the gazebo and the park next to it came to be.

Stevens said in the early 1980s, Tonganoxie didn't have a park or playground equipment for a park. She along with Janet Angel and other community volunteers raised about $5,000 to construct the gazebo through their group called "Swing Into Action."

The group was created to raise money for the gazebo and playground equipment for what was then Tonganoxie's only park.

Through the years the playground equipment has disappeared, the red concrete sidewalk along the park has all but vanished, and the gold-plated eagle on top of the gazebo was stolen years ago. All that remains from the effort is the gazebo.

Angel said she was upset when the city removed the playground equipment, and she doesn't want the gazebo to meet a similar fate.

"I would hate to see it go," Angel said. "If it does have to go, I hope the city considers putting another one in. I don't think it would be that expensive."

For now, Yanez said he was waiting for the contractors to pour the footings of the new bathhouse to see how close the gazebo would be to the building.

The proximity, he said, would determine the gazebo's fate.

Yanez said even if the city does have to tear down the gazebo, the council seems to want to keep a gazebo somewhere in the park.

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