LEWISTON — Restoring the historic gazebo in Kennedy Park might be too expensive for the city to do on its own, according to city officials.
City councilors are scheduled to discuss three options for the gazebo at a workshop Tuesday. They could choose to restore the gazebo and former bandstand to its original condition, simply repair the damage or remove the structure entirely, according to Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau.
"The longer we wait, the more problematic restoration becomes," Nadeau said. "But beyond that, the longer you wait, it just becomes a safety hazard to leave it up and not do anything. You don't want to have this structure which is potentially going to be faced with sheer collapse."
Returning the gazebo to its original condition could cost more than $150,000.
"Restoration is inherently expensive because of all the the things you have to do," Nadeau said.
He said he's looking for members of the community to take the lead on fundraising, if that's what the council decides.
"Staff doesn't have the time to pull together a community project," Nadeau said. "We're a much smaller organization now and the effort has got to be led by someone in the community if they want to raise that kind of money."
According to a history of the gazebo written by local historian Douglas Hodgkin, the first bandstand was built in the park in 1868. Since then, it's been used for concerts and band performances as well as political rallies for local, Maine and national candidates. It was the site of a November 1960 rally featuring U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy just before he won the presidential election. The park surrounding the gazebo was named in his honor shortly after his 1963 assassination.
Most recently, Howard Dean, then chairman of the national Democratic Party, spoke from the gazebo at a 2008 pre-election rally.
The current gazebo was originally built in 1925 and given some minor repairs in 1973 but has been closed and blocked off since March 2010 due to safety concerns.
Getting it back in its original shape would mean replacing the concrete floor with wood as well as making structural changes.
"And while you're restoring it to historical accuracy, you need to bring it up to modern standards, too," Nadeau said. "The thing is 5 feet high, so it's not (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. You need to either build 120 feet of ramp or put in some kind of small elevator to make sure."
It would be less expensive to forgo historical renovations and simply build a new structure. The domed roof is still in relatively good shape and could be moved to a new structure, built at ground level.
"You might be able to use the gazebo, but you'd certainly be using it differently," he said. "You wouldn't have to worry about all of the preservation work or salvaging the parts that don't work."
The third, and least expensive alternative, would be to salvage the roof and remove the rest.
"You'd have a clean site, then determine at a later date if you want another structure," Nadeau said.