Reconstruction on the Gene Harris Bandshell is about to begin, but full completion of the project may take months or even a year.
The Boise Parks and Recreation Department has contracted Belfor Property Restoration to begin the process of repairing Boise’s historic structure in Julia Davis Park. The estimated cost for the repairs is $12,000.
The structure suffered extensive damage when it caught fire April 23. Boise Parks and Rec director Doug Holloway said work on the bandshell should begin within the next few days, beginning a process that could last “from a few to several weeks.” After that, a bid will be opened for another contractor to perform the main reconstruction of the bandshell.
In a best-case scenario, Holloway said it’s possible that Boiseans could see the iconic structure return next summer, though that is far from a guarantee.
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The contractors have two directives: assess the full extent of the damage, and then perform cleaning and stabilizing construction to keep the bandshell from deteriorating any further while the reconstruction effort moves forward.
Holloway said that the department, like the Boise community, is eager to repair the structure, but the process takes time.
“Unfortunately, we have to move at a pace that is most appropriate not just for construction, but the city as well,” Holloway said. “We ask our citizens to be patient; we are working on it and we’d like it back up and running just like our citizens.”
There are a few factors that could contribute to the slower pace of the repairs. According to Holloway, the first hurdle to clear is the availability of the needed equipment to complete the project. Because it's a possibility that sections of the roof might need to be removed, a specific kind of lift is required, and such a lift might not be immediately available given the amount of ongoing construction projects in Boise.
The nature of the damage also is a factor, as the wood frame inside the bandshell was one of the fuels for the fire. But Boise Parks and Rec won't know for sure until the Belfor team completes its assessment.
"We want to do it right, be patient and make sure it’s completed correctly," Holloway said.
Julia Davis Park continues to be a popular location for large events in the Boise community, many of which have traditionally used the bandshell. Holloway said Parks and Rec has been able to accommodate these groups by offering other locations in the park, such as the Agricultural Pavilion, so no major events have been canceled due to the bandshell's unavailability.
As reconstruction efforts are underway, the Boise Police Department’s investigation into the fire is ongoing. According to BPD spokeswoman Haley Williams, while the fire was determined to be “human-caused,” there is still not enough evidence to determine arson.
Williams said BPD is encouraging anyone who has any information about the incident to contact police at 208-877-6790.