AVON LAKE — A gazebo will be built at Veterans Memorial Park, following planning commission’s approval Tuesday evening.
After a more than two-and-a-half hour meeting, Commission members voted 4-1 for the project. Sean Plunkett voted against the measure, chairman Randy Knilans abstained, as he works for the architecture firm that designed the gazebo. The plan does not need to go before City Council, Public Works Director Joe Reitz confirmed.
It was passed with the modification that the city review possible design and dimension enhancements to the proposed structure, within its budget. The gazebo is currently slated to be an at-grade, 24-foot diameter octagon with a low-pitched roof and no walls or railings to minimize obstructing the lake view. It will have an inside overhead light and several power outlets, with the electrical run back to the bathrooms nearby.
The project, which will include a memorial to the city’s bicentennial, is funded through the general fund and a $50,000 Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant. Reitz noted the project has been on the books for more than a decade.
The shoreline view was a main point of contention for those against the project, which included several residents along Beachdale Drive; Ward 3 Councilwoman Eileen Camp and Council-at-large Zach Arnold.
Kathy Barbero, of Beachdale Drive, suggested a pergola along the back of the Lake House instead of the gazebo. She said it doesn’t look up to “the level of what Avon Lake deserves.”
“To start plunking structures in there and I don’t mean to say this is a light gesture on the part of the city but I see it as not being good stewards of the park and the open space we’ve invested,” she said.
One of the selling points for the gazebo, brought up by Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Lynette Brausch, was that it could be rented out for weddings, birthday parties or other gatherings, beyond the “passive use” of providing a spot for park goers to get out from under the sun.
For some, that was another point of contention — some citing the city shouldn’t build something just to become a wedding destination. Others, like Ward 4 Councilman David Kos and Mayor Greg Zilka said the gazebo could allow the city to be part of “the happiest day of a couple’s life.” The only resident to speak in-favor of the project was a bride-to-be, hoping her’s would be the first ceremony performed in the gazebo.
“I think we should want weddings, we should want gatherings,” Kos said. “… We should have this option available for people to come to Avon Lake and spend the happiest days of their lives.”
Comparing the gazebo with other projects residents have doubted, like the library on Electric Boulevard, Kos said the pavilion is not a “monstrosity” and while it should be made more attractive, said it will benefit the city as a whole.
“When we build it, people will come,” he said.