By David J. Hill
City of Tonawanda officials on Tuesday pledged their support to rebuild the gazebo in Clinton Park, which collapsed earlier this month and seriously injured two city workers.
The workers, David Zorn and James Daugherty, were rushed to ECMC after the incident and remained hospitalized for several days. They are now recovering at home, Mayor Ron Pilozzi said this week.
Meanwhile, officials said they would like to see the gazebo restored as quickly as possible, calling it an icon of the city. Clinton Park was once regarded as the city center.
The Historical Society of the Tonawandas has offered to assist the city in any way. Patrick Barnard, the society’s board president, said the organization has a file on the gazebo, complete with pictures and a history of it.
The gazebo’s roof collapsed the afternoon of Oct. 8, trapping one worker beneath it, while another was struck by debris. A third worker wasn’t seriously hurt. Police and fire crews rushed to the scene and called in a front-end loader to free the trapped worker.
City Parks and Recreation workers were replacing the steel-encased wooden beams that held up the roof of the structure when it collapsed. Councilman Chuck Gilbert said during Tuesday night’s Council meeting that a number of the wooden beams that encased the steel beams had rotted. Recreation Director Linda Foels told the Council several weeks ago that the gazebo was deteriorating, prompting city leaders to authorize money for its repair.
The roof was broken into several pieces and hauled away. The base of the structure remained intact. William Street resident Michael Mercio told city leaders he recently saw some young children playing on the gazebo and asked the city to put up a barricade to prevent anyone from getting hurt.
City resident Gayle Syposs called for an internal investigation into how the incident occurred and who was responsible. “We will be working on making sure that doesn’t happen again,” Pilozzi said.
Common Council President Carl Zeisz asked his colleagues not to comment on the incident. “At this time, this is a legal matter being handled by our city attorney,” he said.
As for rebuilding it, Zeisz said the city has drawings of the gazebo dating back to 1924. “It’s my intent ... that we would develop an RFP to go out to bid to restore the gazebo as close to original as possible.
“Obviously I’d like to do this as quick as possible. But when I say that, that means it might take until next summer. I don’t know how long it’ll take, because the RFP process does take time and we also have to keep in mind that we have to put together the funds to pay for this,” Zeisz added.