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Medford to take down familiar gazebo

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune The city of Medford wants to tear down the Alba Park gazebo. City officials cited the structure’s deteriorated condition and that it doesn’t provide access for those with disabilities.
Deteriorating Alba Park fixture to be replaced by shade structure

A gazebo that has graced Medford’s Alba Park since 1984 and has more recently provided shelter for homeless people is about to be demolished.

The gazebo’s deteriorated condition is considered a potential safety hazard, while it also doesn’t provide access for those with disabilities, according to the Medford Parks and Recreation Department.

Over the years, work crews have confronted drug paraphernalia, including needles, and other issues while cleaning up around the gazebo.

“That is commonplace,” said Rich Rosenthal, parks and recreation director.

The Site Plan and Architectural Review Commission will hold a public hearing and review the parks department request to demolish the structure at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, in the Lausmann Annex, 200 S. Ivy St.

Once demolished, the gazebo, located in the southern portion of Alba Park near West Eighth Street, would be replaced by a shade structure.

The cost to remodel the existing gazebo to make it compliant with disability regulations is estimated at $20,000, and the cost to demolish it and replace it with a 20-foot-wide shade structure is $25,000.

Adroit Construction estimated it would cost at least $30,000 to disassemble and reconstruct the gazebo at another location.

The gazebo was built by Medford resident Herb Gifford with help from Ralph Finkas. They used donated materials and fashioned the gazebo after another gazebo located a short distance away next to the Carnegie Library.

Atop the Gifford gazebo is a weather vane constructed to resemble a pick and shovel.

Over the years, the shade structure has hosted political rallies, weddings and other events.

Gifford, a retired lumberman, also fashioned a 41-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower made out of pine and Douglas fir. According to Americana Magazine, Gifford offered the tower to the city of Medford, which declined, citing liability issues.

He kept it in his backyard in Medford for eight years until the city of Paris, Texas, decided it wanted the tower.

In 1993, the Texas city decided it needed a more enduring tower and built a 65-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower made of steel, and in Texas style, donned it with a red cowboy hat.

The Alba Park gazebo will be replaced with a shade structure similar to the one in Cedar Links Park in Medford. (Photo courtesy of Medford Parks and Recreation)

Rosenthal said he expects the demolition work and erection of the shade structure would take place this summer or fall.

“It is contingent upon when the new shade structure components will arrive,” he said. “We won’t demolish the gazebo until we’re ready for the installation of the new shade structure.”

The canvas sail for the shade structure can be removed and replaced as necessary, though the metal posts will remain fixed.

Rosenthal said the shade structure will resemble one that is located in Cedar Links Park.

Rosenthal said not much is known about the cistern that is underneath the gazebo.

“We’ve heard that that was a water source for people in the early 1900s,” he said.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.