By David J. Hill
The Tonawanda News
While the state Labor Department continues to look into potential causes of the Clinton Park gazebo collapse, there is some reassuring news.
James Daugherty, one of the two workers injured when the gazebo’s roof collapsed on an October Friday afternoon, is scheduled to return to work early next week, Mayor Ron Pilozzi said Tuesday night.
“That’s good news,” the mayor said, noting that David Zorn, the other worker who was hurt, is still receiving some medical attention for his injuries. Pilozzi has kept in touch with both workers since the incident, which happened Oct. 8.
City Parks and Recreation Department workers were repairing support beams on the gazebo, considered by many to be an architectural landmark in the city, when the structure fell, temporarily trapping one worker underneath. Daugherty and Zorn both sustained fairly serious injuries, while a third employee suffered minor injuries.
The incident remains under investigation. Pilozzi said he has not yet received a report from state Labor Department officials and doesn’t want to comment on what may have led to the accident until the report is received.
“No. 1, we have to wait for the Department of Labor report to come back,” the mayor said. “I truly don’t want to speculate on any type of opinion or conjecture. We were completely saddened by the whole event. To me, the important (thing) is that they’re both OK, and I thank God for that.”
As for the gazebo, plans are underway to rebuild it, and city officials remain adamant that it be rebuilt to resemble its original state. “What we plan to do is go out for (requests for proposal) for design and establish a contractor to rebuild it to its original specifications,” Pilozzi said, adding that the plan is to begin construction in the spring.
Shortly after the gazebo was damaged, the city created a committee tasked with overseeing the structure’s reincarnation. City Clerk Jan Bodie, a committee member, was instrumental in ensuring the gazebo is rebuilt to its original condition, the mayor said. The committee is working from a picture of the gazebo that dates back to the mid-1920s.
With no design plans yet, city officials aren’t sure how much the new gazebo will cost.
Recently, Common Council President Carl Zeisz said he would like to see the gazebo rebuilt as quickly as possible, but that there are some variables that could affect the time table.
“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,” he said.