Future of City Park bandshell in question

Valley City’s City Park bandshell has sat unused since 2008, and is now facing an uncertain future. A recent assessment by city engineers Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson put the estimated cost for repairing the 80-year-old building at a quarter of a million dollars, and the hefty price tag has the Valley City Park District wondering if the historic structure can or should be salvaged.

“We’ve had KLJ explore the options of ‘Is it possible to restore it?’” said Parks Director Tyler Jacobson. “Now their cost estimates are up to $250,000 depending on how far in-depth we go. The question is do we try to move forward to fix it at this cost, or do we look at replacing it with a similar structure in the park or a different park?”

“After we received the report from KLJ, we felt it was extremely important to get some information out to the public,” said Park Board President Dick Gulmon. “That building has had a significant impact on the community. Music in the Park has been big, and there’s been a lot of theater activities over the years. It’s a real concern: can we save this facility or not?”

Engineer Shawn Mayfield of KLJ explained, “The main component is the foundation has deteriorated to the point where it’s barely holding the building up.”

The Park District put in foundation supports 20 years ago to help alleviate the sagging, but “that could go at any time as well; there’s a lot of stress on that,” said Mayfield.

The inner wall of the foundation in the 8-foot basement has a large horizontal crack along its length, and the support timbers are visibly buckling. Mayfield said the only solution would be to lift the bandshell and build a new foundation underneath it, similar to repairing a house.
“There are other items as well, some of the floor joists are rotted to the point where there’s virtually no support, and we’ve got the roof that’s sagging and could certainly use some work,” said Mayfield.

Flood waters have covered the structure three times in the past three years, often reaching above the stage and leaving unsightly watermarks on the wood and stucco.

Gulmon said a new bandshell would cost about half the amount of repairing the existing structure. He also stated that with a sizable amount of the Park District’s land in the flood zone, their budget has been “devastated” by repairs the past two years.

“We’re at point where we don’t have the funding to look at anything close to a match at this point,” he said.

Potential FEMA funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is still a possibility, but state officials have indicated a decision on the project needs to be made next month to be eligible for federal money. Up to $150,000 for the foundation reconstruction would be covered 75 percent by federal funds, 10 percent by state money and 15 percent by the Park District. Any costs over $150,000 would be picked up entirely by VC Parks.

Jacobson said the Park Board is hoping to discuss a solution and move toward a decision at their May 2 meeting.

“We wanted to let the community know what we’re up against and let them know we may not be able to save this facility,” Gulmon added.

The Park Board and VCPR are encouraging public input on the direction of the project. Questions or comments can be directed to Jacobson at 845-3294.