GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission passed a measure Tuesday evening allowing for city officials to begin entering into bidding processes for the eventual restoration of the Gallipolis City Park bandstand and Kerr Memorial Fountain.
According to Gallipolis City Manager Gene Greene, the city still needs to seek out appraisers to get an idea for how much restoring the structures will cost. Around $150,000 is anticipated to come to the park after capital expenditures were passed in the Ohio General Assembly previously. The capital budget focuses on the needs of state government, schools and economic development in Ohio municipalities. Local entities previously contacted state Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, and Sen. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, with their concerns.
Greene said that once appraisals of restoration efforts are made, bids will be made to contractors seeking to take on the projects.
With the announcement of capital funding, Greene previously said he anticipated money would also be put toward completing the park’s electrical upgrades. Half the park had previously been funded by grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Electrical upgrades running along Second Avenue and Court Street are anticipated to be part of improvements made. Electrical upgrades should help manage the needs of events such as the River Recreation Festival.
“The Restore Project effort, in the Gallipolis City Park, began as a conversation initiated by Meagan Barnes, expressing her desire to see Kerr Memorial Fountain function again, ” said Jennifer Walker, previous Project Restore liaison, to the Tribune last year. “For several days, we shared ideas on how to bring this much needed repair about. Within a couple of weeks, we had a name, a logo and a Facebook page in place. As soon as the word spread about our plan to formally initiate this project on July 2, 2015, we received an outpouring of support and positive feedback from the local community.”
Walker said the goal of the project was to increase the park’s beauty and usability. Greene and Barnes discussed maintenance project effort target costs and believed them to be around $75,000 after some grassroots organizational efforts.
“We expanded our fundraising effort to include the repair and restoration of the historic bandstand,” Walker said. “Due to the diligence and commitment to improve Gallia County, our state representative, Ryan Smith, along with Meagan Barnes, were instrumental in making the original idea become a reality. Like so many other local residents, the City Park and its iconic landmarks hold a lifetime of memories for me and my family. I am grateful to all who supported, worked on and encouraged this unique community endeavor.”
Mrs. Minnie Kerr, wife of local deceased pharmacist Charles Kerr, entered into a contract with Saunders Monument Co. on Aug. 22, 1925, to build the monument. The contract states the marble of the fountain monument “shall be of the best grade of select stock Georgia marble.”
Locals say the fountain stopped working around a decade ago. The bandstand was reportedly built in the mid-1800s and has seen gradual wood deterioration over the course of time.
According to information gathered from the Gallia County Historical Society, Charles Kerr was a member of the local Masonic lodge. At one point, the Kerr family offered money to Gallia Academy if the school would change its name to Kerr. The money was turned down and, as a result, “the money was spent on the fountain and other benefactions to the citizens of the community.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.