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St. Helens gazebo replacement back on city's agenda

City Council approves $17,000 contract with Portland firm to develop design concepts

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Discussion about replacing the gazebo stage in Columbia View Park on Strand Street first surfaced in  January. Initial fast-track plans quickly faltered, but long-term planning seems to be back in the works. The St. Helens City Council approved a contract of more than $17,000 with the Portland firm Walker Macy to move forward with designing a larger stage that could replace the gazebo in Columbia View Park.

Discussion about building a new stage in the park first surfaced in January when event planner Tina Curry and City Administrator John Walsh brought the idea to the City Council. Curry suggested building a new stage larger than the 16-by-16 stage currently in the park by the summer to accommodate the Fourth of July celebration and fall events.

Curry proposed having a business pledge funding towards building a large stage venue in the park by offering the company naming rights. While Curry announced in mid-February that an unnamed local business had pledged $24,000 to build the stage, city councilors and staff expressed concern about how much the stage would ultimately cost and agreed to put the plan on hold.

During several City Council work sessions, members of the council expressed support of a new stage in the park, but agreed that the process should not be rushed just to complete the project by July, as initially suggested.

Approval of the contract with Walker Macy, which specializes in architectural landscape design, puts the project back on the city’s agenda.

Walsh indicated, however, that the stage would most likely not come to fruition until next summer.

The city has been working with Walker Macy on the waterfront redevelopment planning process and wrapping the stage redesign into a wider vision of the waterfront, as the former approach seemed to have too much of an isolated goal, Walsh said Wednesday.

The approval of the newest contract will be paid partially by an area-wide planning grant and supported by supplemental city funds, Walsh explained. It’s unclear at this point how much of the total cost will be covered by grant funding, he added.

The proposed contract outlines a general plan to develop several stage design concepts in conjunction with input from the city, and then to present the plans in a public forum prior to construction.