Friends of the Bandshell Park Move Forward with Performing Arts Center

By: Kitty Mayo

Members of the nonprofit Friends of the Band Shell Park say that progress is being made toward their dream of a reimagined performing arts center and city park. The center will replace the bandshell at Thomas Owens Park in Two Harbors that was built over 70 years ago.  The new center will be an indoor/outdoor center that is accessible and can be used year around for many venues.

The FOBSP first formed with members of the Two Harbors City Band, a band that has been playing at the current bandshell since 1937. The City Band first organized in 1897, and is an autonomously operating organization, with a modest annual allocation from the city.

It’s a tradition that city band member Al Anderson says the city should be very proud of. However, the wood-frame structure has aged, and provides inadequate storage space for the city band in the the form of just one usable narrow passageway behind the back wall. A basement under the structure is prone to flooding, and in past years has caused damage to band equipment when a sump pump failed, leaving most equipment stored in a variety of locations, including the city hall basement, and individual band members’ homes.

Mary Planten-Krell moved to Silver Bay over four years ago, and immediately began looking for someplace she could play her flute. She soon found that the Two Harbors City Band was the only place in the area where she could play.

“It’s a wonderful organization and wonderful location, but getting down the steps you are really taking your life in your own hands,” said Planten-Krell.

Narrow stairs that Planten-Krell dubs “rickety,” an unreliable handrail, and band members carrying instruments looks like a recipe for an accident to Planten-Krell. There are also “soft spots” in several places on the floor of the stage that are marked to show particularly weak places to avoid.

“This project is way more than just a bandshell, it’s incredibly exciting to me that we could attract theater, dance, small and large bands, both for Two Harbors, and from all around the area,” said Planten-Krell.

Throughout the pandemic some work has been slowed down, and the FOBSP realized that with the forced hiatus of the city band during the summer of 2020 members of the public may be wondering about the project’s progress, but work that Planten-Krell says “is mostly invisible” has gone on.

Some of the behind-the-scenes work already completed includes; property and soil surveys, and architectural work right up to the preconstruction process. The FOBSP has met regularly with the city to work out how the property will be managed, while it remains in city ownership.

The FOBSP has already purchased the property with a house and garage located on one corner of the park, and intend to have the buildings removed and transfer that site to the city’s ownership so that it can become part of the park.

The group says their vision is of creating a town square atmosphere, a space that is inviting to people who live here, and visitors from out of town.

The block will feature a north-facing performing arts building backdropped by Lake Superior, with an outdoor stage the same size as the existing bandshell, and an indoor stage for smaller performances. Restrooms, a ticket booth/office, additional office space, storage space, and a large hall that could accommodate gatherings like wedding receptions are also in the plans.

A key piece of the plans for the new building is to create space for other groups and individuals, such as dance, choral, and community gatherings.

“This is a whole different concept that is community building. We want to build something that will serve the community for the next hundred years,” said Planten-Krell.

In addition to the performing arts center, the project has commissioned conceptual drawings for landscaping that would create some terracing for the audience of the outdoor venue, as well as winding walkways, garden areas, foliage, and a small children’s playground.

Anderson says the most frequently asked question is about timing, and when the project will actually see construction.

“We are so close that if we could get the rest of the money together we would have the building finished in a year,” said Anderson.

The Friends of the Bandshell Park are urging community members to get in touch with them with any ideas, to participate in the project planning, or to help with donations. Visit their website for more information at:, or call Al Anderson at (218) 830-9319.

Two Harbors musicians raise money to build new Band Shell and Performing Arts Center

Friends of the Band Shell Park hope to rebuild the heart of the community.
Written By: Melinda Lavine | 8:00 am, Jul. 2, 2021

The Paul Gauche Memorial Bandshell was dedicated in Two Harbors’ Thomas Owens Park on Oct. 15, 1984. (Steve Kuchera /

If Larry Saur’s parents didn’t take him to the city band concerts as a child, he rode his bike.

The kids would dare each other to ride a trail right where the director was conducting in front of the band shell, he recalled.

“They still do,” said Sue Anderson.

“We’ve had some distractions,” added Alan Anderson (no relation). “Did your folks let you play on the cannon when you were a kid?”

The three longtime members of the Two Harbors City Band reminisced recently about the parents, siblings, nieces and more who preceded them, or followed in their footsteps, performing in the Paul Gauche Memorial Band Shell in Thomas Owens Park.

The three are part of the ongoing effort to update the venue, which was built in 1937.

Two Harbors Paul Gauche Memorial Bandshell sits closed up in Thomas Owens Park on Monday, May 17, 2021. The group Friends of the Bandshell Park is exploring ways to enhance the park and the bandshell. (Steve Kuchera /

“It was a good building, but it sure served its purpose, and it’s not up to snuff now,” Alan said.

“That was a hard fact for me … but looking ahead, it was inevitable,” added Sue.

It’s currently the main performance space for the city band, which dates to 1897, but in recent years, it has become home to farmers’ markets, chalk art, church services, dance recitals, guest band concerts and more.

The new vision is to replace the band shell with an all-encompassing performing arts center and to restore Thomas Owens Park to create a town square.

This is what it once was when they were children and what they intend it to be again in the future, Alan said.

An artist’s rendering pictures the proposed Performing Arts Center, which includes an updated Paul Gauche Memorial Band Shell and park area in Two Harbors. Fundraising efforts are at almost at $2 million of a $4 million goal. (Photo courtesy of Pope Architects)

They imagine a central gathering space for Two Harbors.

This new performing arts center and park area is expected to be a resource for the North Shore arts community and Minnesota tourism, said fundraiser Monica Bruning by email.

Fundraising efforts have been underway for about 12 years, but they started tackling it more aggressively five years ago. They’ve raised just short of $2 million so far, from various donors CN Railroad, Minnesota Power, Co-op Light, and are halfway there.

Friends of the Band Shell Park formed three years ago to help fundraising efforts. It quickly morphed from a Two Harbors City Band project into a community project, the organizers said.

Their website features video testimonials from Mayor Chris Swanson and Janelle Jones, the president of the Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce — both speaking about the importance of this effort.

“Thomas Owens Park has been a great place for community pride in our town. … A new band shell and park renovations are going to give our community the opportunity to build off of what is already happening,” Jones says in the video.

Alan Anderson, Larry Saur, Susan Anderson (Submitted photos)

This all began because the city band needed a space to house its instruments, uniforms and music library — all are currently stored in a rotating combination of City Hall, in personal homes or various rehearsal spaces. They also require a space that is ADA compliant, which the current band shell is not. And the band shell is past its prime.

There’s a single, very difficult stairwell that goes into a basement area that’s prone to flooding, and a restroom without a doorknob — among other things. As the band shell opened up to more performances the past 10-15 years, community organizers realized they needed to meet the needs of a wider variety of users.

The new performing arts center will be open year-round, with indoor space for art displays, rehearsals, an office or maybe a tenant.

Larry, Sue and Alan reflected about the different visitors they’ve had in the band. The band shell and the park have a rich history of bringing people together from all around the globe and even into matrimony.

Rachel and Scott Gischia met while playing together in the Two Harbors City Band. “Not the place we dreamed of meeting our perfect match, but yes the city band brought us together and we’re proud,” she said by email. Scott and Rachel Gischia were band mates before they were spouses.

“Not the place we dreamed of meeting our perfect match, but yes the city band brought us together, and we’re proud,” Scott said by email.

Rachel grew up going to concerts at the venue, and Scott was introduced to all of it when he moved to Minnesota for work in 1997. The Gischias have performed in the Twin Ports Wind Orchestra, the Negaunee city band, and as accompaniment to the Superior Sounds choral group.

They said the band shell and the city band have a long legacy in Two Harbors, and they are a testament to how music can bring together many people of different generations and skill levels.

They won’t be performing in upcoming shows this year, but they have designs on rejoining with their daughter, who will be taking over the flute, and their son, “the budding percussionist.”

“It’s one of the great things about the organization is that it’s always welcoming of both new and returning players,” Scott said by email.

Amy Taylor is one of the returning players. The music teacher and semi-professional musician of New Forest, England, reached out to the city band before a visit to her in-laws’ Two Harbors cabin.

“They were really excited I play an exotic instrument,” she recalled of her first interaction.

Among how inviting everyone was, Taylor recalled a former conductor named Betty, Minnesota mosquitoes and her very accommodating French horn cohorts.

The following year, she played in the city band with her children. And one year, she wasn’t able to return, Taylor reported the band members were so inclusive, they Photoshopped her into a group picture.

“It was small-town Americana. Really sweet. Classic small-town Midwest America,” she said.

A 2019 group photo of the Two Harbors city band. Members Photoshopped visiting musician Amy Taylor, of New Forest, England, into the image when she couldn’t return during one season. “It was small-town Americana. Really sweet,” Taylor recalled of her time performing in Two Harbors. (Photo courtesy of Amy Taylor taken by Andrew Saur)

PAC Preview

Hey Music Lovers

We cannot wait until we are able to start construction on the new Performing Arts Center! In the meantime, let’s envision what the park can and will be used for! Along with musical art, the PAC will be able to be used for artists of all kinds of disciplines. The outdoor stage can be used for performance art such as dance groups or theatre. When performances go on outside, attendees can pitch their own chair and enjoy the fresh Two Harbors air. The inside can be used to display beautiful art in the comfort of the PAC lobby and will have enough space to display several artist’s work.  We think that both of these spaces can be used to share and enjoy beautiful art.

Despite all of the fun speculation of how the PAC will be used, we do have sad news regarding the future of the 2020 Two Harbors City Band Summer Concerts. Due to complications with COVID-19 the Summer Concert Series has been canceled. Two Harbors City Band President Jim Glazer stated that the cancelation of Heritage Days, keeping band members and audience members were taken into account in the decision.

With all of that being said, this month the featured performance is “The Gladiator”

Wedding Season & 2020 Season Update

Hey Music Lovers

Can you believe it is Summer? We can’t either! Summertime also means it is wedding season, and we want to share our vision of a beautiful wedding being hosted at our Performing Arts Center. Imagine a cool summer evening in Thomas Owens Park with rows of chairs facing the outdoor stage as two lovebirds start a new chapter of marriage. With nearly 30,000 sq ft of green space, you will have enough room to invite anyone to your special day. Once the wedding service is over, it is time to move the party indoors. The inside lobby provides a reception area where catered food can be laid out and people can mingle while the outside green space can be converted into a dance area. Also with lights from the stage, the party can go all night long! We are really excited to see how couples are able to make their special day come true in the PAC.

Despite all of the fun speculation of how the PAC will be used, we do have sad news regarding the future of the 2020 Two Harbors City Band Summer Concerts. Due to complications with COVID-19 the Summer Concert Series will have to be canceled. Two Harbors City Band President Jim Glazer stated that the cancelation of Heritage Days, keeping band members and audience members were taken into account in the decision.

With all of that being said, this month the featured performance is “Frere Jaqcues March”, we hope this glimpse of last summer can keep you encouraged throughout this summer

PAC Preview!

Hey music lovers!

We are starting a monthly blog to keep all of our supporters updated on how the new Performing Arts Center project is going. We are going to be sharing exciting details of the project such as design concepts, contests, and much more.

This month we wanted to give you a look at the future of Thomas Owens Park from the concepts Pope Architects designed for the new Performing Arts Center. From the concepts, you can see that the entire park gets a new look since the PAC will be built on the southern end of the park. This creates an inviting green space for outdoor activities and a place to enjoy outside events. Along with the outdoor space, there will also be areas to gather indoors when the weather is not being nice. Inside there will be storage space for the Two Harbors City Band, a multipurpose room with a stage, and some office space.

As fun as it is to prepare and plan for such a big project, we are eager to see how the community will use the new PAC.

We are working with several organizations and individuals to raise funds for the Performing Arts Center project, with great opportunities being identified and significant progress being made.

With summer fast approaching, we are so eager to see all of our supporters in the park, and if you can’t make it to a City Band concert in person, we will be live streaming each of the Two Harbors City Band Concerts on Facebook!

As of now, we are still planning on gathering for the start of the concert season, but those plans may change. Please be sure to check our Facebook for any updates regarding COVID-19 and how it affects the concert schedule.

Featured Performance

Two Harbors City Band “Hosts of Freedom”

April Blog

Hey music lovers!  

We are starting a monthly blog to keep all of our supporters updated on how the new Performing Arts Center project is going. We are going to be sharing exciting details of the project such as design concepts, contests, and much more. 

This new Performing Arts Center will be a transformative project for downtown Two Harbors. Friends of the Bandshell Park knows that a new Performing Arts Center will be an amazing addition to the Two Harbors community, providing opportunities for enjoying the arts, experiencing local culture, and facilitating economic growth. The new space will be used not only for the Two Harbors City Band but also for other community organizations and individuals looking for space for their events.   

Along with updates for the Two Harbors City Band Concerts, we will be keeping you aware of all the other fun events that happen in Thomas Owens Park.   

We are working with several organizations and individuals to raise funds for the Performing Arts Center project, with great opportunities being identified and significant progress being made.   

With summer fast approaching, we are so eager to see all of our supporters in the park, and if you can’t make it to a City Band concert in person, we will be livestreaming each of the Two Harbors City Band Concerts on Facebook! 

As you all know, COVID-19 has shut down a lot of the things we enjoy on a day to day basis. As of now, we are still planning on gathering for the start of the concert season, but those plans may change. For any updates regarding COVID-19 and how it affects the concert schedule, check out our Friends of the Bandshell Park Facebook page. 

Featured Performance 

Two Harbors City Band “Agate City March” 

Band Shell Park group earns $300,000 grant

Lake County News Chronicle
By Teri Cadeau on December 13, 2018

The Friends of the Band Shell Park was recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation for the construction of a new performing arts center. The city of Two Harbors will own the new facility, which will replace the current band shell.

“We are excited,” Friends of the Band Shell Park member Deidre Schlunegger said.

The band shell was constructed 80 years ago, but the most regular user, the Two Harbors City Band, formed in 1897. The band performs weekly concerts in the band shell throughout the summer.

The structural integrity and noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of the building has brought its useful life to a close for safety and liability reasons.

The nonprofit organization Friends of the Band Shell Park formed in 2010 to explore options for the current band shell. The planned new facility will have an outdoor stage and indoor space for citywide and regional performances.

The facility work is estimated to cost about $3 million. Additional money will be raised for the park. As of last year, the organization had raised about $1 million in donations and grants. This grant of $300,000, Schlunegger said, brings the project one step closer.

“We hope the community will donate and help raise money, have a party, sponsor a walk to help us,” Schlunegger said.

Construction is hoped to begin in the summer or fall if funding falls in line, but, Schlunegger said, “no promises.”

Grants, donations for Two Harbors band shell exceed $1M

Duluth News Tribune
By Jamey Malcomb on March 10, 2018

Every Thursday throughout the summer for more than 120 years, the Two Harbors City Band has filled Thomas Owens Park with music. Soon, the park could receive a major makeover and the band could see a new home.

The band shell in Thomas Owens Park is “nearing the end of its useful life” and needs to be replaced, according to Friends of the Band Shell Park (FBSP) President Al Anderson.

FBSP is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 to explore options for the current band shell “with the hope of revitalizing the area and creating a town square concept” around the park, according to the group’s website. Anderson and FBSP are not just exploring options to replace the existing band shell with another, similar structure — they hope to create an all-season performing arts center that would become a hub of activity in Two Harbors.

“It started as a city band-driven project,” Anderson said. “But it’s turned into a community-wide thing. We hope to use it for dance recitals or plays.”

Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson, also a FBSP board member, agrees that a new multipurpose building would be helpful in attracting people and businesses to downtown.

“The roots of Two Harbors are deeply embedded in music,” Swanson said. “To have a performing arts center in the center of your town is basically the crown jewel for our city … this kind of a project builds community pride. It drives home the concept that we want this area to be just beautiful.

“Waterfront Drive is the showcase drive of Two Harbors and this is going to be the thing that people will drive right by and see how beautiful it is,” he said.

The Two Harbors City Band was founded in 1897. Anderson said he believes it’s the oldest city band in Minnesota, though he admits there are some who would disagree.

“We like to say we’re the oldest continually performing city band,” he said. “Sometimes we get a little pushback, but we’ve been doing it a while.”

Anderson started playing in the band in 1968 and his mother joined in the 1940s, but the band shell, built in 1937, predates them both.

Now more than 80 years old, the structure is becoming more challenging to maintain, and it’s noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are a few band members with mobility problems and other disabilities who can’t access the basement where instruments are stored and the rest of the band warms up before concerts.

In 2017, the project received a boost when it received a pair of grants: a $15,000 design grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation and a $5,000 starter grant from the Blandin Foundation. FBSP used the money to hire Krech Ojard & Associates in Duluth to create some conceptual drawings. After posting them on the FBSP website, money began to come in from other sources as well.

Anderson estimates the cost of the new facility to be about $4 million, but the FBSP already has a good start on the fundraising effort.

Deirdre Schlunegger, a grant writer who recently moved to Two Harbors, has been volunteering her services to the project. She said the FBSP has raised more than $550,000 in the past year. Another $350,000 has been committed to building the new center and renovating Thomas Owens Park.

Anderson said the organization is committed to keeping the new building a privately funded project. While conceptual renderings depict a brick structure, Louisiana Pacific has committed to donating its SmartSide panel siding for the band shell, which brings funding and in-kind donations to more than $1 million so far.

“We have not accepted any taxpayer dollars,” Anderson said. “It’s not been part of our plan to use taxpayer money. All the money we’ve raised has been from grants from foundations and corporations and individual donations.”

A Tradition and a Vision for the Future

A Tradition and a Vision for the Future

Every Thursday evening from mid-June through mid-August a crowd of people of all ages gathers under the tall spruces in Thomas Owens Park in the City of Two Harbors to listen to another concert of the Two Harbors City Band. They unfold their lawn chairs on the grass or settle in on one of the park benches. It’s 7:30, a time when the slanting rays of a setting sun are just beginning to cast a yellow glow on the old west-facing band shell. The conductor signals for a drum roll, the crowd rises to their feet, and the concert begins with the Star Spangled Banner continuing a long history of music in the park.

In 1897, a group of 15 musicians held practice sessions in the Two Harbors 8th Avenue Fire Hall. This band was called upon to play at picnics and other community gatherings of the day. Early directors of the band were also skilled tradesmen, and through the years included a railroad boilermaker, machinist, a clerk, and a local blacksmith. Musicians of this day were mostly self-taught men and the term of “wood shedding” was coined as many practice hours were spent in the woodshed behind the house so as not to disrupt the households.

Around 1922 or so, the City Band performed at one of the first Lake County Fairs. By 1925, the Band had increased in size to about 25 men and were invited to play at the Minnesota State Fair.

During the late 1920’s a Duluth & Iron Range Railroad Band was formed in Two Harbors. This Band was composed of railroad employees only and played at various railroad functions and dinners, as well as taking part in civic affairs. At this same time, the City Band was also rehearsing and presenting a few concerts each summer. Due to the Depression in the 1930’s, the railroad band was disbanded and the railroad company very generously donated the larger instruments and their music library to the City Band. Some of this equipment and music is still being used today.

With a larger membership now by the combining of the Railroad Band and the City Band, rehearsals shifted to the basement of the Lake County Court House. Two programs of significance were instituted by the City Band during the 1930′ s that benefited the community. The first was to have instrumental music education set up in the school system. Paul Gauche was hired to head the instrumental music department of the school and also assume the directorship of the City Band. Through the efforts of Paul Gauche and other band officials, and in cooperation of the City Fathers, the second project was completed. In 1937, a band shell was constructed as a W.P.A. program and located in Thomas Owens Park.

During World War II some of the male musicians were called to military service. Two Harbors high school students and women were then welcomed into the City Band. Older musicians brushed up their musical skills and the Band survived. The weekly concerts in the park became tradition and once-a-week reprieve from the worries of war. The City Band continues to remember those who did not return from war by performing at the annual Memorial Day program.

As was mentioned earlier, some of the first members of the band were railroad workers. One such musician was Veikko Ingelin who immigrated from Finland. His mother had stressed that he learn two instruments before leaving his homeland as it would be helpful in getting employment in the United States. Because of his musical ability, Veikko was hired by the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad and initially played the tuba until switching to the flute in later years. His devotion and dedication to the band is still inspiring others today as he did not miss a rehearsal, a concert, or a parade in 54 years. To recognize Veikko’s service, the City Band performs the march “Old Comrades” at the concert nearest his birthday each summer. A further testament to his service is that his son, Paul, is currently a member of the City Band and at age 79 still carries his tuba in the annual Two Harbors Heritage Days Parade.

But probably the most influential and most well regarded individuals in the City Band’s history is Paul Gauche. Paul directed the Band for 35 years, and it was under his leadership that the band progressed to becoming an award winning musical organization not only in concert but also in parades. In his travels, Paul Gauche observed a band shell built in Valley City, North Dakota, that he thought would be beneficial to Two Harbors. Paul was able to obtain the blue prints and convinced the City Fathers to add a basement for its construction in Thomas Owens Park. Because of Paul’s initiative and dedication, the Band Shell was named the Paul Gauche Memorial Band Shell.

Even after his retirement as main conductor of the City Band, Paul would occasionally direct a few selections at the summer concerts. One of those selections he directed was the “Agate City March” composed by Paul in honor of Two Harbors. However, when his health started to fade, he would only be able to attend the concerts in his car and would honk his horn at the end of each piece. When the time came when he could no longer make the trip from Duluth to Two Harbors for the concerts, the City Band packed up all of their instruments and music and traveled to his front lawn to serenade him with a concert.

As you can see, the Two Harbors City Band has a rich tradition of providing music from dedicated individuals and it’s music has been enhanced ever since the construction of the current Band Shell. However, the band shell is now over 70 years old and is showing its age and the City Band is seeking support in providing a “home” for rehearsing and storage of its instruments, uniforms and music.

Our parents and grandparents helped in supporting the construction of the band shell, and except for some cosmetic changes, very little has been done to update the facility. It is now our turn to do our part in making for a better practice facility. As indicated earlier, the City Band has had a variety of rehearsal locations. The fire hall, the courthouse, the old high school, and the Minnehaha Middle School all have been used in the past. The new high school band room that is currently used for rehearsals does not have adequate space to store all of the City Band’s equipment and is located approximately two miles away from the Band Shell.

A committee named Friends of the Band Shell Park has been formed with the vision of providing a new rehearsal area attached to a band shell that will create a permanent “home.” It is hoped that a new facility will be more handicap accessible, will provide adequate restrooms for band members as well as the general public at concerts, and will provide the needed space for rehearsals and storage.

The members of the Two Harbors City Band give so much to the City of Two Harbors and surrounding area. The need to raise the necessary funds for construction is an opportunity to give back. The Committee needs a significant level of private support to build on the City Band’s proud tradition of 114 years of providing music. Your support will keep the tradition going and will enhance the Thomas Owens Park. Your support will ensure that the band marches boldly into the future with talented musicians young and old. The Band deserves nothing less than the best. Please consider making a gift to this project. Help in creating a permanent resource that will keep the tradition and spirit of the City Band alive and support music long into the future.

Music, like other art, nourishes the soul. Happy people usually have access to music and live in places that are attractive to the eye. It is hoped that the band shell with an attached rehearsal hall will become a symbol of the City, an icon of civic pride, a place for concerts, social gatherings, and other activities.

Thank you for your support from the Friends of the Band Shell Park and the Two Harbors City Band where all the tuba players are strong, the flute players good looking, and all the student musicians are above average.

Bandshell Plans Bring Praise and Questions

May 10, 2013

Bandshell plans bring praise and questions
More than 40 people gathered at the Two Harbors Community Center May 2 for a public meeting planned by the Friends of the Band Shell Park.

By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle

kane-tewes-band-shell-discussionKane Tewes of Krech Ojard & Associates

More than 40 people gathered at the Two Harbors Community Center May 2 for a public meeting planned by the Friends of the Band Shell Park. In addition to members of the FBSP committee, those in attendance included five of seven city councilors; Kane Tewes of Krech Ojard and Associates, a Duluth-based engineering and architecture firm; and Okey Ukaga, executive director of Northeast Minnesota Sustainable Development Partnership. NMSDP is a program of the University of Minnesota that connects communities with resources for special projects. Ukaga has been offering guidance to FBSP on its ambitious plans to build the Paul Gauche Performing Arts Center.The proposed center, designed by Tewes, would replace the 77-year-old band shell in Thomas Owens Park, and include a new band shell, indoor rehearsal space and storage areas for the equipment, instruments, uniforms and musical archives of the Two Harbors City Band. The facility would be owned and maintained by the city and used by other arts organizations or for community events, but the FBSP says the facility would be first and foremost, a home for the band. The building’s design has not been finalized, as funding has not yet been secured.

“I think this is a great start and it will add something to Two Harbors,” said Tewes, who described the structure as taking its cues from the city’s existing architecture, but “with a modern sensibility.”

The price tag for the building is estimated at $3 million, a figure that several FBSP committee members acknowledged is a significant sum. Diane Dinndorf Friebe said she has been researching potential sources of grant funding and has a list of 60 foundations that may be amenable to a proposal. She emphasized the importance of community support, however, in garnering outside financial backing.

“Once you get some money, then you can get more money,” she said.

Committee member Ken Sandvik pointed to the $1.5 million Clair Nelson Center in Finland as an example of what can be done when the community gets behind a project. Sandvik conceded that “$3 million may be somewhat more,” but added, “we’re comfortable that it is a do-able number.”

Ukaga said that Finland was able to achieve its goal of a new community center by taking its planning one step at a time. Although the construction of the Clair Nelson Center was a major accomplishment for the Finland community and it has been widely praised by many who live there, residents recently opted to increase property taxes to help pay down the center’s remaining debt. Asked if Two Harbors residents might face the same dilemma, committee member John Gregor said that FBSP plans to continue seeking funding sources for the Paul Gauche Performance Center over the long haul.

“We hope to fund this entirely without tax dollars,” Anderson said. Mayor Randy Bolen congratulated the FBSP on its ongoing efforts, but stopped short of making a definitive promise of support. He said that the council attended the meeting to hear what the community had to say and get more information about FBSP’s proposal. At least two city councilors, however, readily offered their backing. Councilor Robin Glaser, whose husband is on the FBSP committee, was enthusiastic about the proposed facility.

“When I looked at all this, I was pretty darned excited and I will support this project 110 percent,” she said.

Other members of the audience were not so easily persuaded. Linda Melcher of Arts on Superior questioned whether other non-profit arts organizations could use the facility for storage, since the city (and taxpayers) would ultimately own and maintain the building.

“The band would be the anchor tenant. It will not be a permanent storage space for other tenants,” said Sandvik. Despite the lack of enthusiasm for Melcher’s proposal, the committee did not immediately rule out Fran Kaliher’s proposal that the Two Harbors community radio station be housed in the building. Melcher also asked if the choice to build the center would be presented to the community in the form of a referendum.

“I think the governing body should make the decision,” said Sandvik, referring to the city council. After the meeting Mayor Bolen was asked if the new Paul Gauche Performing Arts Center was a slam-dunk with the council.

“I’d never say that,” he replied, “but we’re going to hear from people in the community, get the facts and make the best decision we can for the city of Two Harbors.”