GARDINER — The city plans to replace the gazebo in the Common torn down last year, but it’s not known what the new structure will look like or when it will be completed.

Before deciding on a design, the city is hosting a public forum Tuesday at 6 p.m. for community members to talk about their ideas for a new gazebo.

Members of the Parks and Recreation Committee will present examples of types of gazebos, including options for columns, lighting and roofs, at the City Hall meeting.

Committee Chairman Jack Fles said they’ll gather a consensus from the public hearing and an online survey before drafting a request for proposals to build a gazebo.

Fles said the city would ideally finish the construction before Gardiner High School’s graduation at the beginning of June.

“But that’s an ideal hope,” he said. “Whether we make it or not, time will tell.”

City Manager Scott Morelli said he expects the council to sign off on the idea in May. “The goal is to have it here this summer for folks to enjoy,” he said.

The online survey conducted by the city found widespread support among respondents for a new gazebo in the Common similar to the old structure, according to Meaghan Carlson, project coordinator for Gardiner Heart & Soul.

Of the 128 respondents as of Friday evening, 100 said the gazebo was “very important” to the Common, and a little over half said they would be willing to donate their time to the effort.

Heart & Soul is a two-year project funded by a $100,000 grant from the Orton Family Foundation to help create an updated comprehensive plan for the city. The project also helped pay for the design of a new city logo, which features a gazebo.

Carlson said it’s clear from the opinions gathered during project events that residents want to see a new gazebo in place.

“The gazebo has come up a lot so far,” she said. “It’s definitely something a lot of people in this community value about Gardiner specifically — that Common and that gazebo. It’s a thing. They love it.”

It’s been more than 35 years since the Gardiner Common was without a gazebo. The last one was completed in 1977 as a replacement for an earlier gazebo torn down in the mid-1950s, according to Kennebec Journal archives.

The first gazebo had a more stout appearance, with shingled wall columns, as opposed to the square banisters of the last structure.

Fles said the city councilors have called for the new gazebo to have a traditional design with a shingled roof, similar to the previous models.

“Of course the dollars and cents are going to weigh in a lot,” Fles said.

The total could be about $35,000 if the city’s initial estimates are close.

The city is contributing a little over $8,000 from its bicentennial fund, and Morelli expects community organizations, businesses and individuals to contribute the remaining funds.

“I think, as long as it’s within reason, there’s going to be no problem raising the money for it,” Morelli said.

Fles said the committee plans on engaging the community as much as possible throughout the process.

“We definitely want to be able to tap into our community’s strength, which is participation by volunteerism,” he said.

He said the gazebo plays to two of the city’s values that have emerged in the Heart & Soul project — a neighborly feel and engagement with nature.

Besides having a gazebo for community uses, Fles said a well-kept and attractive park could make Gardiner more appealing to businesses and people who may locate there.

Dawn Thistle, the Gardiner Public Library’s special collections librarian, said she remembers playing on the gazebo when she went to O.C. Woodman School across the street.

“It’s a landmark in the community. We’ve come to appreciate having it there,” said Thistle, of Hallowell. “It was also the focus of a lot of activities. I look forward to there being another one.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]m

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