Residents still divided over construction in Veterans Park
By Cam Bonelli
Six years after Head of Richfield Historical Society David Butler’s conception of a community bandshell in Veterans Park, the project broke ground Sept. 30.
The ceremony had approximately 25 attendees, including Mayor Pat Elliot, Hennepin County Commissioner Debbie Goettel, Councilmember Simon Trautmann, Friends of the Richfield Band Shell President Rick Jabs and Parks and Recreation Director Jim Topitzhofer.
Four marching bands played in unison to commemorate the project’s construction made up of members of two Richfield High School bands, the Northern Winds Band and the Richfield Symphonic Band.
Butler said he was excited to see the project finally come to fruition.
“It’s been about six years, and it’s finally coming around,” Butler said. “We’ll be constructing the foundation this fall and finishing up next summer.”
Topitzhofer said construction has begun, and fencing for the project has been put up.
“They are thinking they are going to start the excavation this week,” Topitzhofer said. “Planned for this fall will be excavating the site to prepare the foundation and installing footing. Once the foundation is finished and filled in, we will let that sit over the winter and continue construction of the above-ground segment of the bandshell.”
Topitzhofer said the city plans to finish the bandshell by the end of July or early August, with completion of additional touches slated for September 2018.
The final budget for the bandshell came at a cost of $325,000 to the city of Richfield, with an initial $65,000 fun raiser by the Friends of the Richfield Band Shell for construction with its contribution totalling $146,056 thus far. Topitzhofer said the Friends of the Richfield Band Shell still need $40,000 of the funds.
“These funds are not just for the construction though,” Topitzhofer said. “They are raising money for chairs, lighting and music stands. They are raising money by selling engraved bricks and announced at the groundbreaking that more than 100 bricks had been sold.”
Resident Birgit Johnson said she thinks the bandshell in Veterans Park is a waste of green space and will disrupt migratory birds.
“For about two years, we filled up city hall for every meeting, and we’ve been totally ignored,” Johnson said. “It’s very upsetting that they are starting to build it, and we have no idea about the money. I saw the fencing today in the park, and it breaks my heart. I have a granddaughter and she loves the park, and I take her to the park in every weather, and every season. We have seen so much wild life, and it is a treasure.”
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