Changes wanted at city bandshellThomas Owens Park has stood the test of time as a place for family gatherings and the music of the Two Harbors City Band, the oldest continually operating one in the state.
Thomas Owens Park has stood the test of time as a place for family gatherings and the music of the Two Harbors City Band, the oldest continually operating one in the state.
Now, there is talk of reinvigorating the park with the possibility of tearing down the old bandshell and erecting one in the south corner of the park. Another idea is providing an ice sheet for open skating.
So far, it’s just talk among people with the city of Two Harbors, North Shore Rotary and city band members.
“We, the band, have had a committee in place for about five years for this very same undertaking but have been stymied with the problem of how to fund a project like this,” said vice president of the band and 48-year member Sue Anderson. “We are ready to roll with our wish list already in place.”
Problems with the bandshell, Anderson said, include the foundation being shifted and cracked, a leaking roof, a dark and damp basement, almost unusable toilet facilities and a stage that is not large enough to accommodate the band even with the extension on the front edge.
The band has instruments, music, and historical ephemera that is now stored at various places. It would like a regular place to rehearse and store its materials.
The bandshell is not handicapped accessible and members have a difficult time getting on stage. The shell also faces west, which means musicians are looking into a setting sun when performing and getting the worst of winds off Lake Superior.
“As far as the park itself is concerned, the ground is uneven, footpaths are nonexistent, the grass itself is in bad shape and the big trees are always dropping branches,” Anderson said.
“Parking is lacking and there are not enough permanent benches to allow for comfortable and accessible seating. The park also needs an upgraded electrical layout with multiple hookups throughout the grounds to allow for power for functions like Heritage Days and trade/art shows with vendors.”
How are funds going to be raised?
“[We are thinking about] allocating money for the existing shell or tearing it down and putting up a new one,” Mayor Randy Bolen said.
The project is projected to cost between $500,000 and $750,000 with funds coming from grants and the community.
On Monday, the council passed a resolution that has the newly-formed Two Harbors Public Arts Commission leading the project.
It wouldn’t be the first transformation of the park.
“It got some Band-Aids,” Bolen said. “It was in need of some TLC.”
Bolen also mentioned using the park for more events, like outdoor movies.
“As much as we would hate to see the original structure taken down, we realize that is the only way to go and hopefully some of the flavor of the old will be incorporated in the new [facility],” Anderson said. “We envision a multi-use community building with dedicated and secure space for the use of the band only for the storage of uniforms, equipment, music, instruments, chairs and stands, which are now scattered.”
“It must be totally handicapped accessible with several bathrooms, kitchenette and a meeting space,” she said. “We would like to see this building sit on the southeast corner of the existing lot with the stage area facing north. It would also be nice to have some sort of parking provision.”
She said the cannon “must stay.”
The North Shore Rotary is also involved in the project. It has been trying to get involved with some larger projects in the area and this one sparked their interest.
“We’re always interested in what we can do to serve the community,” said Rotary member Gary Martini.
John Gregor, also from the Rotary, said “from the outside it looks OK.” But when you “dig deeper, the walls are cracking and damage has been done to the basement due to flooding.”
There are hopes that the bandshell retains some of its charm. “We want something that echoes the existing design,” Gregor said. “We don’t want to lose that wonderful historical feel.”
Downtown street talk is Jan. 27
A meeting with downtown business owners about the reconstruction of First Avenue has been set for 8 a.m. Jan. 27 at the Moose Lodge. Concern about the timing of the project is at the forefront, business owners have said. The city and county are looking into causing the least disruption, especially during Heritage Days this summer, when many downtown merchants do enough business to keep them afloat.
More talk has gone on about the extra touches added to the landscaping of the street, including trees, planters, outlets for lighting, hanging baskets, benches, stamped concrete, raised beds, and perhaps the resurrection of the arched steel banner welcoming people to the area. The structure was a staple at the corner of the former Agate Bay Hotel to what is now Dunnigan’s Pub.