Downtown pavilion has been a ‘neat project’ UPDATE
By BECKY KISER
A public ribbon cutting celebrating completion of the new 40-by-80-foot open-air pavilion in Union Pacific Park, 10th and Main, will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, April 27.
Just prior to spring break, students in construction classes at Fort Hays State University’s Department of Applied Technology, were working in downtown Hays on the underside of the roof.
According to FHSU instructor Kris Munsch, the wood is tongue and groove boxcar siding “and every single piece is cut to fit.”
“The way the roof tilts underneath was designed by a Fort Hays State design class,” said Sara Bloom, executive director of the Downtown Hays Development Corporation (DHDC). “The roof design of the structure will pay tribute to our former railroad depot,” she explained. “It’s going to be gorgeous.
“This has been a really neat project from start to finish.”
The project, which had been envisioned as a “public gathering place” by downtown proponents since 2012, was brought to life in 2015 when Munsch and his students pitched their collaborative concept to the Hays city commission.
Groundbreaking was May 24, 2017. Representatives from DHDC, FHSU, the city of Hays and Commercial Builders of Hays, the project’s general contractor, were on hand for the ceremony.
Each academic semester since then different FHSU classes and different students have been working on site during their scheduled class times.
The public/private project is funded by DHDC. Financial donations have come from the Robert and Patricia Schmidt Foundation, the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and community supporters.
The pavilion will be given to the city by DHDC for use by the public. Reservations for private events may be made by contacting the Hays Parks Department at 785-628-7375.
Several public events are already scheduled to use the pavilion, including the Ellis County Relay For Life on Sat., June 1. The United Way of Ellis County will hold its 2018 campaign kick-off event at the pavilion, which will also become the new home of the Downtown Hays Market. It will be used during the Hays Arts Council’s art walks.
DHDC originally thought about adding a few benches under the rooftop and debated whether the seating should be permanent or portable. Then they decided against benches entirely, according to Bloom.
“We want it to be an open space and customizable. You’re going to be able to bring in tables, chairs and even grills.”
There will be, however, memorial benches in the area around the pavilion to rest and relax upon.
“We’ll reveal those benches during the ribbon cutting,” Bloom promised.
Along with speakers from the entities involved in building the pavilion, the ceremony will include the FHSU pep band and Victor E. Tiger.