After years of planning and debate, the sound of music is coming to Richfield’s Veterans Park.

City Council members last week approved building a community band shell in the park, just to the east of Richfield Ice Arena on 66th Street. Though the structure will be more modest than originally envisioned by supporters, the $400,000 building will feature steel and stone and have an open back intended to embrace the park’s lake.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time, so it’s nice to see it continue to go forward,” said Jim Topitzhofer, Richfield’s recreation services director.

The project had faced opposition from nature lovers who oppose more construction in Veterans Park, which is an important nesting and migration site for birds. Topitzhofer said the city consulted with the Minnesota chapter of the Audubon Society and experts at the state Department of Natural Resources about the bird issue. No adverse impact on wildlife is expected, he said, and a glass wall that was considered for the back of the structure will not be added to avoid bird collisions.

Other residents worried about noise for nearby homeowners. Concerts at the band shell will need a city permit, and noise levels will be monitored. Unless the city grants an exception, performances are supposed to end by 10 p.m.

The band shell will be the site of a concert series the city holds each summer on Thursday nights and at noon on Wednesdays. Topitzhofer thinks music offerings may expand when the band shell is built.

“We think we’ll attract new performers with this,” he said. “The better the venue is, the easier it is to attract performers.”

Placing the band shell in Veterans Park means there are 285 city-owned parking spaces nearby as well as easily accessible bathrooms.

The structure will be 46 feet wide at the front, 30 feet deep and 38 feet wide at the back. It will be paid for with $325,000 in city money, most of that coming from municipal liquor store proceeds, and $75,000 from private sources.

At $400,000, the budget covers the basics. No sound and lighting equipment will be installed at the start, though it may be added later, Topitzhofer said. Plans for a nearby garden also depend on funding, he said.

When the council approved construction of the band shell, members also approved a motion that capped the city’s contribution at the $325,000 level already approved.

Topitzhofer said construction bids are expected to go out this fall. Should those bids come in above the approved budget, more private fundraising would be needed.


Mary Jane Smetanka is a Twin Cities freelance writer.