Almost 40 community members gathered Tuesday inside Sandusky High School, brainstorming ways to enhance the Sandusky Bay Pavilion on East Water Street.
Years of neglect at the pavilion, sandwiched between the Sandusky Yacht Club and Battery Park Marina, has led to several issues, including a contaminated wave pool, a warped roof and various health hazards. Commissioners voted to spend $10,000 in April so crews could restore the pavilion’s bathrooms.
The Wightman Wieber foundation kicked in an additional $10,000 for the recently completed project. Still, city officials hesitate to schedule more upgrades when a long-term improvement plan doesn’t exist. That said, commissioners voted in May to initiate talks with anyone interested in improving the pavilion.
To see a gallery from the 2012 Kidsfest click HERE
Among those responding to the city’s call were Bowling Green State University representatives. About two months ago, city officials and college representatives toured the facility, labeling the six acres an ideal spot for people to research algal blooms in Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie. Since then, no other major public discussions about the pavilion occurred — until Tuesday.
Various city stakeholders passionately shared their opinions on the property. Strong emotions about the pavilion reverberated strongly, in large part because of its popularity. Up to 15 events, many hosted by the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, occur there each year, attracting tens of thousands of people. Almost all in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting agreed to keep the pavilion a public venue, and they shunned any idea of fully selling it to a private developer.
• BGSU Firelands Dean Bill Balzer: Our faculty was very struck by the possibilities that could happen at the Sandusky Bay Pavilion. One idea might be a science research station, where there would be interactive science exhibits for students in the community to come by and (see or perform) hands-on science experiments. Another idea might be a research opportunity to study the lake or insects that our undergraduate or graduate students from both campuses would be involved in. Our vision is that we can create some opportunities down there.
• Maritime Museum of Sandusky board of trustees president Dave Blevins: We want to be a partner in any efforts with this. We would love to see a partnership with all of the foundations to put forth the money to rehab the facility. We don’t want to see it developed by private enterprise. Fixing the roof is warranted. Removing the pool is warranted. It’s a liability, and it’s a danger to citizens walking around it.
• Wightman Wieber Foundation representative Gene Kidwell: We have demonstrated that the property should remain a public property by us supporting projects there to improve it. We would like to be a part of it moving forward as a public access facility to hold events there for the entire area. But before we can commit to additional funding or approach other foundations to partner with us, we need to have a plan.
• Sandusky Yacht Club commodore Mike Claar: The yacht club would love to not have an eyesore right next to us. We try to be a good partner and good neighbor to the city by keeping our property looking good. If our pool looked like the (pavilion’s) pool, we would probably be getting a lot of phone calls. q#City resident Arnold “Skip” Oliver: I just hope we are united in wanting this to be a public recreational facility.
• City resident Jeff Krabill: That piece of land has sat essentially vacant for quite some time, and that is unfortunate that it languishes in its current state. I want something more than what is there now.
• City resident Mike Zuilhof: That is a spectacular piece of property. It has a view few other properties have. I want to see something happen there. Any attempt to privatize this property will divide the community. Let’s get together on something we can all get behind.
• City resident Elizabeth Guss: This park should be left public. It has a beautiful view. It’s public land, and that is how it should stay. q#City resident Sharon Johnson: The pool has to be taken out. It’s a liability the way it sits right now. Someone could break into the park and get into that pool. The park should not be privatized and remain open to the public. That land belongs to the taxpayers.