City works to finance new pavilion


    Manhattan’s 2008 Capital Improvements Program, which was approved by the City Commission, proposes that Manhattan’s classic, 1930s-era City Park Pavilion be replaced by a larger, more aesthetic facility. Now city officials are moving ahead with formal plans for the project.

    The pavilion has been home to picnics, day camps, ice skaters and concertgoers in Manhattan for more than 70 years, but many community members think the facility needs a dramatic update to remain viable. The project plan for the new pavilion includes a larger multi-purpose space, an expanded ice arena, new cooling tubes for the ice surface, a combined camp and ice skating office, and restroom modifications, according to the City of Manhattan Web site.

    The city has approved the total CIP project budget removal and replacement of the facility for approximately $800,000, said Bob Strawn, city commissioner. The project will be financed over a period of ten years by collecting payments through the Park Development Fund, which will start in 2010.

    The design process has already required many additional modifications, which has led to a struggle to reduce expenditures and remain within budget, Strawn said.

    These modifications include a stone veneer to match the Larry Norvell Band Shell, upgraded finishes, a 20-feet addition to the existing 60-feet ice skating rink, additional storage for the Manhattan Municipal Band and expanded public picnic areas.

    In order to fund these modifications, Strawn said he made it his mission to minimize the cost of the original plan and begin fundraising for the project. He said he needed to pause the design process and raise an additional $1 million to fund the modifications he thinks are necessary.

    Strawn has raised $600,000 so far, and if his efforts continue to be successful, the new pavilion will be built this winter and be open by next summer.

    “When I saw the original plan, I thought it was completely unacceptable,” Strawn said. “A metal building in City Park is totally inappropriate, and the ice rink was much too undersized.

    “City Park is the crown jewel of this community, and it deserves a limestone building. I’m still hopeful we can achieve our goal.”

    Strawn said he began fundraising for the project a few weeks ago by calling community residents and explaining what he wants to accomplish. Strawn is also accepting contributions by mail to City Hall. He said community members are generally very open to his ideas.

    “The community has known that the need for a City Park remodel has been there for quite some time,” said Curt Loupe, director of Parks and Recreation. “It’s a ‘30s-era pavilion, and it’s not in good shape. By the time it’s finished, we’ll have a much nicer facility and better security. The updated design plan includes a larger
format with stone and different finishes.”

    Loupe said the Little Apple Day Camp, a popular Manhattan summer camp, will have more space for activities, and the camp’s directors will be able to enroll more participants. Last summer, the camp was full in two hours.

    The public area, which is used by many university and community organizations, will be remodeled, and the pavilion stage will be removed permanently, Loupe said.

    “We want the updated City Park to be something that community members can take a lot of pride in,” he said. “It will be a much nicer-appearing pavilion, one that’s not falling down.”

    Bruce McMillan, architect for the new facility, said he thinks it is important to provide a nice pavilion for the community.

    “The Pavilion has a predominant presence in City Park,” McMillan said. “I think it will get a really positive reaction from Manhattan once it’s finished.”