Residents fail to save gazebo; Overland Park votes to replace it with airplane-shaped bandstand

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Residents hoping to save an Overland Park gazebo from the wrecking ball went home disappointed Monday night.

City leaders approved a $3.6 million contract that will replace the gazebo with a bandstand in the shape of a paper airplane.

About 40 people stood outside of Overland Park City Hall chanting, "Save our gazebo," before Monday's city council meeting.

The gazebo sits on the site of old Santa Fe trail at a park that still has signs calling it Santa Fe Commons. But officially it’s now Thompson Park, renamed for the family who gave a million dollars for renovations

Part of those renovations call for tearing down the 1980s era gazebo and bandstand at the park’s center, built in the image of the 1915 carriage house next it. It’s where Bill Stowe had his 90th birthday party.

“I love it. I can just open my window and listen to the music here summer evenings,” Stowe said.

The bandstand will be replaced by one in the shape of a paper airplane, an ode to the Strang Airfield that called the area home 100 years ago.

"A lot of people use that park. Update it, but don't make a monstrosity of it," Diana Barnes said.

Roger Peugeot is in favor of other amenities included in the renovation plan, including a playground and water feature. But he called the stage too contemporary.

He said he consulted with engineers who told him the gazebo had 200 years of usable life left in it.

“This is steel, and then up there that piece that holds up the roof that’s all steel. It’s got the bones of the Empire State Building, and it’s set in solid foundation and rock," he pointed out.

Residents who protested outside Overland Park City Hall were told they would not be allowed to speak at Monday's meeting because the city had already held five public hearings on the issue.

"That’s what we decided. That’s what the public input was about. I feel like we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. We give more public input to something we’ve already gone through, then the other half isn’t going to be happy because they already had part of this interaction," Overland Park Councilman Chris Newlin Said.

Many of those discussions, however, centered around whether to move the farmer's market to the park. Residents said they missed a final design plan that would replace what they call a historic gazebo with a paper airplane.

”You aren’t letting us say what we want to say. You can say what you want to say, but we can’t. Aren’t we your constituents. Aren’t we your citizens?” one resident yelled in the middle of the 10-2 vote in favor of the contract.

The park will be closed this summer for demolition and construction. It’s scheduled to reopen late this year.

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