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An arsonist set a portable toilet in Lincoln Park on fire early Saturday, July 19, 2014. The fire spread to the roof of the stone pavilion, causing an estimated $75,000 in damage. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Lincoln Park pavilion fire won’t affect picnic area rentals

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A fire last weekend that damaged a 1930s-era stone pavilion in Duluth’s Lincoln Park won’t slow rentals of an adjacent picnic area, a city official said Thursday.

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Rentals resumed Wednesday, and the picnic area is booked through the weekend and looks to be busy the rest of the summer. Members of three city park and recreation divisions toured the site Wednesday. It’s a facility that amounts to a stage, two handicap-accessible bathrooms and a storage room.

The facility, which now is wrapped in arson tape, already had been locked because of vandalism and previous fires set using paper towel dispensers.

The portable bathroom that had served the public was set on fire by unknown suspects on Saturday. The fire jumped to the locked stone facility and caused an estimated $75,000 in damage, the Duluth Fire Department said in its initial summary.  

“Some people love the park and take care of the park, and some people don’t,” said Kathy Bergen, the city’s parks and recreation manager. “We spend a lot of time and city resources cleaning things up; it’s money that could be better used on other projects. We think it’s sad.”

Bergen said the consensus was to restore the facility, but not before finishing the summer. The facility was not insured for fire.

“It’s money we’ll have to come up with,” Bergen said, adding that parks and rec would unlock the facility for bigger events but keep it locked as a rule.

The Duluth City Council may need to approve the restoration, depending on final cost estimates.

“It’s in really good shape except for the fire damage,” said Bergen, who noted the damage did not affect the security of the facility. She said she considers the fire department’s initial estimate a fair ballpark figure but was counting on further research before estimating a dollar figure for the city.

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