People hang up hearts with messages about saving the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People hang up hearts with messages about saving the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Future of historic Clark Park gazebo now in hands of City Council

On June 5, the Everett council is set to decide whether to fund removal of the gazebo. It could be stored elsewhere.

EVERETT — The fate of the 103-year-old Clark Park gazebo is now in the hands of the Everett City Council.

On Wednesday, the council will consider funding a 29,700-square-foot off-leash dog area at Clark Park. The $360,000 proposal calls for removing and storing the historic gazebo in a city-owned facility.

The latest discussion comes after the Historical Commission decided last month to “indefinitely suspend” a decision on giving the city the green light to remove the structure from Everett’s oldest park. But Everett spokesperson Simone Tarver has said the city doesn’t need — and isn’t seeking — the commission’s approval to remove the gazebo.

The gazebo itself isn’t on the city’s historical registry, but the park is, meaning removal of the gazebo is considered an “alteration” of the site, rather than a demolition, City Attorney David Hall said at last week’s council meeting. This allowed the city to move forward without the commission’s OK.

“We made a lot of changes based on the input we heard from the historical commission,” Parks Director Bob Leonard said at the meeting. “I don’t know that I would ever expect the historical commission to really be the advocates for the removal of something like this.”

History advocates think the gazebo should stay where it is. The historical commission disagrees with the city attorney and believes the gazebo is protected by the city’s registry.

“It was the clear intent of the 1993 nomination of the park to the Everett (Historic) Register that the gazebo be protected,” commission Chair Patrick Hall wrote in a letter to the city. “The gazebo is now the only remaining structure within Clark Park that offers any sense of architectural significance. Its demolition would rob the park of a major reason why it was put on the register in the first place. Without it, its historical status would be more of a technicality, and it would lose any sense of its visible identity.”

The City Council is expected to vote June 5.

The land now known as Clark Park was purchased by the city in 1921 and the gazebo, designed by architect Benjamin Turnbull, was built soon after.

In January, Mayor Cassie Franklin announced the city’s plan to remove the gazebo from Clark Park, citing safety concerns. Removal would make way for the dog park. The announcement came as a surprise to Everett historians.

The dog park’s fencing would resemble the original gazebo design, coupled with “interpretive signage” telling of the history of the gazebo and the park, according to city documents.

Members of the Bayside Neighborhood Association backed the mayor’s announcement.

Bayside residents said they’ve tried for decades to “activate” the park. But the park is still unsafe, neighbors said, and the gazebo seems to be at the center of the issue.

In April, commissioner Jean Satti-Hewat suggested keeping the gazebo in the park for a “trial period” of a year or so, to see if the dog park changes the park’s ambience. Patrick Hall suggested using the gazebo roof as an entrance to the park.

However, Leonard, the parks director, said a covered structure in the park will continue to lead to safety issues. Leonard hopes the gazebo will see a life after removal, if that’s what the council decides to do.

“Parks will retain the pieces of the gazebo so that it can be reused in another location when funding and a determination of where becomes available,” Leonard said last week. “We don’t want the gazebo to go away and be forgotten.”

He suggested the structure could be moved to serve as a wedding venue, or the city could even work with the Everett Museum of History to find a new location. City Council members Don Schwab and Judy Tuohy said they would be willing to use part of the city’s remaining COVID-19 recovery funds to help cover costs, if needed.

Tarver, the city spokesperson, said in April moving the gazebo elsewhere could cost up to $230,000.

Council member Liz Vogeli said she was “on the fence” about removal and wanted to see more detailed funding information.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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