Generous donor will help restore Matoska Park gazebo

Stairs to the second floor are boarded up to keep visitors off. Vandals have also damaged the structure. 

A family that wishes to remain anonymous has committed to pay for most of the improvements to the aging Geist gazebo, estimated to cost as much as $150,000.

The donation is being dispersed through the Greater White Bear Lake Community Foundation, which received the funds with the stipulation money be used for the restoration. 

“They wanted this generous donation to stay private,” said Bill Foussard, past board chair. He noted that the foundation exists for purposes such as this. “What a tool to get stuff like this done,” he said about the foundation. “The best part is, it stays local. That’s what makes this town so darn cool.” 

White Bear Lake’s City Council is expected to officially accept the donation at a future meeting. Public Works Director Paul Kauppi told council Feb. 23 that a gazebo committee has met with experts who determined the upper level is structurally sound, but the floor and joists are rotted beyond repair. The lower level, which was replaced 20 to 25 years ago, is also in poor condition. One of the experts is architect Brian Hanson, who lives near the gazebo and is serving on the restoration committee. He helped with the previous reconstruct in 1998. 

The next piece to the project is to gather detailed cost estimates and finalize plans, Kauppi said. Ultimately, the city will serve as the general contractor. He hopes staff will get authorization this month to obtain quotes on the project. The goal is to have the structure completed in time for Manitou Days in June.

The 19th century landmark in Matoska Park was built on the south shore of the lake in 1883 by Thomas Erd and moved to its current spot in 1974. The city installed the red roof in 2015. 

“Once it’s done, we’re confident the gazebo will serve the community for many years,” Kauppi said. 

 

— Debra Neutkens

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