A landmark structure in a Jacksonville park will soon be no more. The Nichols Park Bandstand is set to be raised in the near future. Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard made the announcement during last night’s City Council meeting.
The council voted previously to demolish the bandstand but held off for the last two years after a public effort to raise funds to save it was started. Ezard says a lot of effort has been put into figuring out a way to save the bandstand, but it is long since past the point of rescue.
“No one wants to take down a historic structure, but the money hasn’t come through. There was quite a social media uprise when we were getting ready to take it down last time so we kind of let that play out to see if there were people that wanted to donate money and things, and that has not happened.
We’ve also taken a look with other potential people that wanted to rehab that as well, and they did not, they said it was too far along. The engineers said years ago that it’s just not safe, and I don’t want to take the chance of someone getting hurt on that.”
In 2017 the estimated cost to make the bandstand safe and usable was approximately $100,000. At the time, community partners were sought to help in saving the historic structure, however, no feasible plans were able to be made.
In early 2020, the City Council voted to raise the bandstand having no other recourse, in an effort to keep the public safe. Ezard says after holding off and exploring options of even saving part of the structure, the bandstand is just too far gone to be saved.
“We were set to do that and had permission from the council a couple of years ago to take that down. Things have gotten worse. We’ve had people take a look at it to try and maybe save the top and they’ve said they don’t want to take that risk.
The appropriate time to do this would be in the wintertime so that in the spring we can plant grass seed and have another green open area. But, you know for the last couple of years it’s just sat there with yellow [caution tape] around it and no one has been able to use it.”
In 2016, Benton and Associates Engineering completed an assessment of the bandstand that showed the entire wood structure needed improvement to the point they suggested demolishing and rebuilding it.
Nichols Park itself has been a part of the City of Jacksonville since 1904.