May 17 2017 11:48 PM

Picnic in the pavilion? Not at Moore’s River Park

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Visitors to the popular Moore’s River Park Pavilion were greeted with a structured enclosed in plywood and bright orange warning signs last weekend.

The 61-year-old, two-story picnic shelter was structurally unsound, a periodic city inspection revealed. Brett Kaschinske, the parks and recreation director, said the May 5 inspection found that support columns “were in a state of shear failure” and that “substantial concrete was spalling off of a large surface area of the lower layer,” which was “compromising the structural slab.”

“It was for this reason that we made the decision to close the facility off until a more detailed inspection can be made to ascertain the overall safety of the structure (as a critical percentage of the design capacity been compromised), the severity of the failure and what can be done in the short term and long term to fortify this structure and understand their respective costs for both,” Kaschinske explained by email.

He said the city had been aware of the decline of the building for years.

The pavilion, which was dedicated in 1956, was donated by Frances Moore, the wife of J.H. Moore, who gave the parkland to the city.

The park, which opened in the 1920s, is considered a model in the urban park movement.

It features a pool designed by Wesley Brintz, a national figure who worked his creations into the existing landscape. The Moore’s River Park pool is believed to be the oldest remaining example of his style. It too has struggled over the years with structural and mechanical issues.

A visual inspection of the outside of the structure Sunday revealed large areas of concrete had broken off revealing the structural iron bars as well as a severely cracked support beam.

The Park Board, which advises the parks department, was formally notified of the closure of the facility on May 10 at its regularly scheduled meeting, said its chairwoman, Veronica Gracia-Wing.

She said “spotty” inspections, age, the weather and “subpar maintenance all contributed to the pavilion’s current condition.”

“I hope that this situation sparks a more robust, proactive inspection plan by all departments charged with the care and maintenance of our park assets,” Gracia-Wing said.

She said the department informed the board May 10 there was no immediate intention to raze the structure and that the board “expressed its desire that demolition of the pavilion be avoided at all reasonable costs.” That was echoed by Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.

“I hope this will serve as a wake up call,” said Castanier. “I hope the next mayor with convene a citywide confab of every group interested in promoting preservation and Lansing and create a comprehensive plan which identifies the historic structures and lays out a plan to preserve them.”

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