Dickinson's bandshell future uncertain
The future of the Phil Patterson Memorial Bandshell is about as much a mystery as its past.
Plagued by cracks, holes and graffiti in Memorial Park, the city-owned bandshell's condition has been a topic of discussion between Dickinson and park district officials for years, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.
"There are still a lot of questions about the bandshell that need to be answered, like if it should be renovated where it's at or maybe move it to a new location," he said. "And yes, I think those questions will get answered eventually."
But he could not give a timeline.
James Kramer, director of Dickinson Parks and Recreation, said a group from Dickinson State University provided a temporary fix by painting and patching holes on the blue and white structure that has been housed in Memorial Park since 1958.
The bandshell was built five years after the retirement of the city band's longtime director Phil Patterson, who had led the band since 1920.
No one at the city, parks and recreation or Chamber of Commerce knows who built the facility or how much it cost to construct.
Residents at St. Benedict's Health Center in Dickinson believe the bandshell was built by community volunteers with donated materials.
In hopes the bandshell will someday be returned to its heyday, parks and recreation has put aside $35,000 each fiscal year for the last two years to fund a more permanent solution, Kramer said.
He expects another $35,000 to be put away for the project in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"We know that money will be the first issue we will have, so that's why we started to set money aside," Kramer said. "We don't have any estimates yet and no one has been brought in to assist with a design, but there won't be any real work on the bandshell until after the veterans memorial is complete. There's no timeline put to the bandshell project yet, but it does need to be addressed, whether it's a complete renovation or not."
Whatever happens, hopefully the bandshell won't be torn down, said Joan Walton, whose first husband was the son of Phil Patterson.
"My kids would be upset because it was built in the memory of their grandfather," she said. "I'm at least glad to hear that they're not positive about tearing it down because people really enjoy the concerts there."
Chad Conitz, a down-the-street neighbor of the bandshell who once performed at the facility, agrees that it should be reconstructed, not torn down.
"It would definitely make the park a lot better and would probably bring more people over for the concerts," he said. "Actually, I think it would be a great idea if they got rid of the old pool and made the bandshell bigger."
Kramer said that the bandshell will continue as the venue for this year's free weekly Phil Patterson Memorial Bandshell Concert Series, which start this month and is co-hosted by the city and Arts on the Prairie.
The concerts bring hundreds of listeners to the park each summer, regardless of the bandshell's condition.
But Kristi Pechtl, executive director of Arts on the Prairie, said it is clear that talk about the facility has not amounted to much.
"We go through this every year, and every year nothing seems to get done," she said.