Forum: Keeping gazebo great idea, but who’s going to pay for it?

The Bayside Neighborhood has discussed this for three years, but the city doesn’t have the $300,000 to restore it.

By Jane C. McClure / Herald Forum

Recent coverage by television station Fox 13 about residents in Everett “heart-bombing” the Clark Park gazebo and imploring citizens to awake to its historic significance before it meets its demise after more than 100 years was so skewed it completely missed the mark at how that decision was made.

The recommendation to the Everett City Council has been agonized over for the five years I’ve been on the Bayside Neighborhood steering committee, dating back to 2011.

The story, as presented, interviewed members of the Everett Historical Society, and shared their concerns, having to do with the loss of meaningful structural edifices relevant to Everett’s history. I get that. Actually, I concur. As a member of the Bayside Neighborhood Association steering committee I’ve fostered grand ideas about returning the gazebo to a beautiful attraction available to our community for personal and public functions. But after five years of research by the neighborhood association, Everett Parks and Recreation and the mayor’s office today’s realities are not those of 100 years ago, or even 20 years ago, when the park started to slide into major decline.

Not once did the television segment reference the drug problems, the unsheltered who use the park and gazebo, and the violence that takes place in Clark Park that keeps the public away.

The concerns about the historic gazebo are being raised by Everett residents who do not live across the street, or anywhere within a three-block radius of Clark Park and the gazebo. They don’t use the park, seek access to it for family functions, or rent access to the gazebo for public events as does the Bayside Neighborhood Association.

The “heart bomb” story was so unbalanced, skewed to a specific viewpoint, and included an off-hand remark by an interviewee that implied that Mayor Cassie Franklin wasn’t doing enough about the homeless population. With that I do take umbrage.

What recently took place is our mayor, blessedly, came to a final decision about the fate of the gazebo, an issue that has been thoroughly researched pro and con, and has been in public discussion at Bayside meetings — the neighborhood immediately surrounding Clark Park — for any and all to attend and comment at any point in the past three years.

It all comes down to money. The extreme costs associated with renovation to bring the gazebo up to code for Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, lighting, structural integrity and vandalism prevention is not feasible.

Restoring the Clark Park gazebo has been looked at by the city and the immediate community affected by the decline in park attendance, concerns for public safety, skyrocketing costs and it is not feasible.

Also, the gazebo isn’t being removed to make way for a dog park. It was never under consideration as an either/or proposal. There is plenty of room for both, however, renovating the gazebo has only recently been deemed to incredibly costly to renovate to current building codes.

The final remark by the Fox 13 anchor that they’d reached out to the mayor’s office, but hadn’t received a reply, rankles, too. Mayor Franklin has stayed up to date on renovation cost, Bayside neighborhood’s feelings about public safety issues, drug use in the park and the park’s close proximity to Everett High School and its students.

As a believer in a balanced perspective, and a lover of all things of historical interest, it would be

wonderful if the Everett Historical Society steps up and finds the nearly $300,000 estimate — as of last year — necessary to restore the gazebo. Perhaps there’s a grant they can write, or start a fundraising campaign. The immediate community affected by the decaying gazebo and the drug use it shelters daily would be ever so grateful.

Jane C. McClure is a grant writer for the Everett Recovery Cafe, member of the Bayside Neighborhood Association, the Everett Cultural Arts Commission, the Snohomish County League of Women Voters and a lover of all things Everett.

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