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Mineola To Demolish Memorial Park Gazebo

Village to explore financing, reconstruction options for a new structure

After falling into disrepair and almost being split in half by a mammoth tree limb during Hurricane Irene, the Memorial Park gazebo just received its last rites…to be followed by a new beginning.

Village attorney John Spellman announced that the village would commission a study to develop architectural, functionality, placement and financing options for a new gazebo in Memorial Park. The current structure, which has seen a share of battles with the weather and Father Time, will be demolished.

Building department superintendent Dan Whalen inspected the site on March 2, where he located roof deterioration, ceiling and support structure issues that deemed the gazebo unsafe. According to the village code, a certificate of appropriateness had to be issued to commence with the demolition.

A previous village board designated the small-roofed structure a historical site. Trustee George Durham, who sat on the Village Master Plan Committee, said a member recommended the designation, but due to the current state of the gazebo, the village concluded it could not undergo restoration.

“We’re looking to remove the gazebo as it stands,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “It has become dangerous to anybody that’s in the area. Memorial Park thankfully is utilized by many families and small children. We’re afraid something is going to happen. We understand the historical status of it but we can’t let the unsafe nature of this dictate what we’re going to do.”

At least one resident feels up for the change. Nancy Rega, a mother of four, frequents the park weekly and welcomes the change.

“The roof definitely needs work and the inside is a bit dingy,” she said pointing to the top of the gazebo. “I think the new one should have seating built into the inside part. It would help, especially if there’s a big event in the park.”

Rega hopes the new gazebo will be a bit shorter in height, indicating she doesn’t let her kids climb the steps anymore.

“It should definitely be the same width, but not height,” Rega stated. “Those stairs have always looked troubling.”

Village officials determined once the upper part of the gazebo is torn down, the foundation would be removed. The gazebo annually serves a sitting ground for residents during the Independence Day celebration and the Mineola Fair, before the event was moved to Mineola Boulevard.

“We want to replace it with something bigger and nicer,” Strauss stated. “We want to make that part safer in the park.”

Parts of the current structure could be used in the construction of the new gazebo.

“There are parts of [the gazebo] we should make an effort to preserve, but unfortunately Mother Nature has taken its toll on it,” trustee Larry Werther said. “I think the mayor’s proposal of incorporating parts of the existing structure into the new gazebo is good. I concur with the findings of Dan [Whalen].”

“It has fallen into ill repair,” Durham noted. “I couldn’t personally deal with it if the structure collapsed on someone. People still go on it. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.”