This rendering shows what the new gazebo at Pier Park will look like when construction is completed by the end of May.

This rendering shows what the new gazebo at Pier Park will look like when construction is completed by the end of May.

Rendering provided by Grosse Pointe Farms

New gazebo being built at Pier Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 25, 2021


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Pier Park’s iconic gazebo met with the wrecking ball, but plans for a new one are in motion.

Last fall, Grosse Pointe Farms City Manager Shane Reeside said workers trying to replace rotten floorboards at the gazebo discovered that the entire structure was in dire condition.

“We found out the substructure was compromised to the point where our building inspector felt it was a safety issue,” Reeside said during a March 8 Farms City Council meeting by Zoom.

As a result, the gazebo was torn down. And if city leaders didn’t know it before, they soon learned how beloved the gazebo was after it was removed.

“There was a lot of outcry when the gazebo went down,” Reeside said. “People had connected to it.”

Working with Grissim Metz Andriese Landscape Architects and the city’s nonprofit, the Grosse Pointe Farms Foundation, Reeside said they came up with plans for a new gazebo. However, he acknowledged that bids came in “surprisingly high” due to an increase in the costs of labor and materials, as well as the fact that the gazebo’s location precludes the use of concrete and gravel trucks to deliver materials to the site, meaning materials will need to be transported via smaller vehicles over the course of many more trips to the site.

The new gazebo will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, with more accessible brick paver walkways and a ramp, and it will feature a stone perimeter and be topped by a lit cupola, Reeside said.

“I think it’s a very nice-looking design,” City Councilman Lev Wood said.

The council voted in favor of a low bid from Backer Landscaping Inc. to construct the new gazebo for $226,371, with another $15,941 for site work, for a total of $242,312. Reeside said they hope to reduce that cost by doing some side work with city employees. He said Backer has even made a contribution to the Grosse Pointe Farms Foundation for the gazebo and vowed to work with the city to lower costs.

“The utility of that gazebo is pretty high,” said City Councilwoman Beth Konrad-Wilberding, a boater who said that she and other boaters enjoy using it, and seniors use it frequently, as well.

The gazebo overlooks the lake and is in a quieter section of Pier Park. Reeside said it’s often used as a gathering place for weddings or family photos.

The GPFF has offered a $100,000 donation toward the new gazebo, Reeside said. He said the city is also seeking an additional donor to further offset the cost.

“In my opinion, it’s money well spent,” Konrad-Wilberding said. “It really is a favorite item (at Pier Park).”

She said she expected that additional donors would come forward to support the project because of the gazebo’s popularity.

City Councilman James Farquhar, a longtime member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the gazebo is a crucial component of the park.

“People love the gazebo,” Farquhar said. “The (Farms) Boat Club loves the gazebo. … It is a very good focal point to our park. … I believe we need a gazebo down there. It suits our city, and it suits our residents very well.”

Still, the price tag was an area of concern for some.

“When I looked at the gazebo (rendering), it is certainly beautiful,” City Councilman Neil Sroka said. “That said, a quarter of a million dollars for a gazebo just seems unreasonable.”

Resident Lonelli Gonzalez agreed with Sroka.

“I am definitely pro-gazebo, but I want to make sure we do it in the most fiscally responsible way possible,” Gonzalez said.

Reeside said the project cost includes $60,000 just for site reconditioning. In addition, he said they plan to build the new gazebo on a solid foundation, not set it on the ground like the last gazebo, which should make it sturdier and extend its life. The lack of a foundation made the old gazebo prone to rot, Reeside said.

Sroka cast the sole vote against the gazebo bid, which passed 6-1.

Reeside said they couldn’t wait on the project because they wanted to have it done by the start of the summer season. By starting work now, he said the gazebo would be “a functional amenity by Memorial Day.”

Mayor Louis Theros said the gazebo is needed because it memorializes the lives of several family members who were killed during a severe straight-line windstorm that tore through the park in 1997.

“Its replacement is absolutely vital to remember those whose lives were lost,” Theros said. “This is one of those key landmarks in the Farms, and I support its rebuild.”

Reeside said that, at more than 21 feet in diameter, the new gazebo will be a little larger than the old one, which was roughly 17 feet to 18 feet in diameter.

“But I think it’s going to feel bigger than that because it’s more open,” Reeside said.