A Peru neighborhood resident on Monday protested a proposal by Peru Rotary Club to construct a 24-by-40-foot open pavilion in one of the city’s simplest and oldest parks.
In response to last week’s proposal from the Rotary, Gregg Maze, a Second Street resident, submitted a two-page rebuttal letter, opposed to the city allowing club to determine the fate of a park by adding a large, open pavilion. He continues to question the renaming of City Park in the 1990s to Peru Rotary Park. The block-square park is southwest of downtown and bounded by Pike, Schuyler, Third and Second streets.
“I was surprised that any construction is being planned for Peru City Park. The Peru council went through this construction exercise back when the eight-stories-high Peru high-rise was being considered. One of its possible locations was to take over City Park,” Maze said.
“After much research looking at the property deed it was determined that the City Park property has in its deed, restrictive language on what can or cannot be built,” Maze said. His letter continued, “The property is supposed to stay as a park. Not for private individual or groups to decide what they need.”
Last week, Peru Rotarian Simon Kampwerth said the Rotary would pay many of the costs for a structure in the park. He said a shelter there now, which has two picnic tables, is too small to host club meetings.
Maze, who came to the meeting with his mother, local historian Nancy Maze, said “the City Park needs to have its heritage and dignity returned by calling it the park it is, ‘City Park,” and if the Rotary wishes to sponsor the maintenance of the grounds that would be OK.”
There was no public response from members of the city council.
According to NewsTribune archives, the park had been called City Park but was renamed Rotary Park after the Rotarians “adopted the park in 1994 to maintain it as an ongoing project.”
Kampwerth last week said the Rotary Club would offer to take care of the construction of the shell of the open, public pavilion and restroom building including the labor and materials for the structure. He asked the city to help with extension of electric, water and sewer and purchase of restroom fixtures.
Maze said there are plenty of other pavilions in the city, and on a recent weekend when he called City Hall to ask about using one of the Centennial Park pavilions, all four were “unspoken for.”
“Centennial Park would be a better place to have a bigger and better pavilion,” Gregg Maze said, noting that would benefit local festivals. He said the proposed pavilion would be too big for the small park.
Currently, the park, which features massive old trees of varying types, a Civil War monument, about a dozen benches (seven of them in durable metal, with the word ROTARY in the back), a pair of cannons dated 1903 and some big cannonballs that earned the park the neighborhood nickname Cannonball Park.
“We need at times a park that is just meant to be enjoyed in its simplistic form,” Gregg Maze said.
He urged city officials to “vote no to messing up a nice tranquil City Park setting,” to avoid allowing construction without public input “or proper zoning and planning discussions.” He also urged city officials to “unravel any commitments or promises that were made.”