Make pavilion rebuild project a community affair

Written by Observer editorial reports March 04, 2011 03:30 pm

The community is willing to step forward to aid in the reconstruction of the beloved Riverside Park pavilion, just as retired contractor Elmer Perry  suggested in a recent Community Comment in The Observer.

It’s unlikely that any other building in La Grande was as widely loved as the pavilion — a building that virtually anyone who has lived here a while has some connection to. The city needs to find a way to make that happen.

People want to help. And as Perry suggested, contractors will likely step forward to lend a hand — from builders to plumbers, electricians and roofers. Citizens, too, will want to help. The city can help offset the reconstruction costs by making sure there is a volunteer component to the project.

Already the La Grande Soroptimists and Legacy Ford have stepped forward as coordinators of a fundraising drive, and donations are already flowing. The building was insured, but fundraising will help make sure that adequate funds exist to reconstruct the treasured building.

It’s clear that the community wants to see a building that closely replicates the design of the historic building, with its timber-framed construction and stone fireplace. Surely there are local designers who can accomplish that for the city. The city has taken a good first step by scheduling a public forum on the reconstruction for 6 to  8 p.m. March 15 at the middle school commons.

As Perry noted in his guest column, a volunteer effort built the pavilion, and a largely volunteer effort can rebuild it. The city, as project manager, needs to find a way for the community to be involved as much as possible, from design to construction. Today’s laws concerning contracting and building codes might make that seem impossible, but ensuring a community effort needs to be a priority for the project. Surely we have contractors who can help see to it that a suitable replacement is constructed. The community needs — and wants — buy-in in the pavilion project.

People who want to contribute to the project can send donations to Soroptimist International of La Grande, c/o Di Lynn Larsen-Hill, 1305 O Ave., La Grande 97850.