Construction of the gazebo at Kenai’s Field of Flowers on Lawton Street was disrupted by what Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates called “kind of a senseless act of vandalism.”
An unknown person knocked over the six vertical wooden posts that will support the gazebo’s roof. The toppling occurred sometime between Sunday and Monday, when two Kenai Parks and Recreation workers discovered the damage. Frates said the incident seemed to clearly be vandalism, rather than the effect of weather or another natural cause.
“Just by nature of the way the posts or the columns fell, and the way things were distributed, it definitely looked like somebody just went over there and pushed them over,” Frates said. “Which could have been accomplished somewhat without a whole lot of effort.”
The posts had been erected by volunteers from the Alaska Unocal Retirees Association, who had also built the gazebo floor. At the time they were knocked over, the posts were unattached to the gazebo’s base and supported only by steel rods planted in the ground. As of mid-day Wednesday, the vertical posts were once again upright and sitting on partially-buried cement blocks.
Unocal retiree Joe Harris, one of the gazebo-building volunteers, said his group’s work on the gazebo had been nearly finished — once the posts were attached, the Kenai Parks and Recreation Department would complete the gazebo by building a roof.
The gazebo is a new addition to the Kenai Field of Flowers, a vacant lot that was seeded with wildflowers for the first time last year. The Kenai City Council voted in March to create the gazebo using $8,400 that had originally been given to a mistakenly duplicated item in Kenai’s fiscal year 2015 budget.
It is being built with wood donated by the family of council member Tim Navarre, with volunteer work from the Unocal retirees and the Kenai Historical Society.
Frates said he had filed a report of the vandalism with the Kenai Police Department. KPD logs record a visit to the Flower Field at 8:36 a.m. Tuesday, and classify the incident as “criminal mischief.” KPD Sergeant Ben Langham said his department has no plans for further investigation.
“There was really no damage to the property other than having to push it back together and put some nails back in,” Langham said.
Frates said the next step in the gazebo construction will be to secure the posts.
“They’ll use some angle-brackets and attach the floor right to the columns directly,” Frates said. “We’ll be sure and get that done sooner rather than later so this doesn’t happen again.”
He estimated the gazebo would be finished soon.
“They’ve got to resurrect the beams and the rafters and put a roof structure on it, so I’d say maybe a week,” Frates said.
Reach Ben Boettger at firstname.lastname@example.org.