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Fire-damaged Bde Maka Ska pavilion will be demolished

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The roof of the pavilion on Bde Maka Ska.
The roof of the pavilion on Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis hangs off the building after a large fire destroyed much of it earlier in the week on Friday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The landmark park pavilion on Minneapolis' Bde Maka Ska, damaged by fire on Thursday, will be demolished.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced Friday that engineers said the nearly 90-year-old building can't be salvaged. It housed a restaurant — Lola on the Lake — that had just opened for the summer.

"We are devastated by the loss of such an iconic feature along the lake," Minneapolis parks Superintendent Al Bangoura said in a news release. "As difficult a decision as it is, removing the structure is the right thing to do and will allow us to rise out of this and begin moving forward." 

Charred wood and metal is seen inside of the pavillion on Bde Maka Ska.
Charred wood and metal is seen inside of the pavillion on Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis on Friday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though there were some indications that the pavilion may have been struck by lightning.

The park board said the building will be demolished after insurance investigators complete their assessment; the timeline for that work remains uncertain.

The fishing docks south of the pavilion remain open to the public, and the nearby boat launch for Bde Maka Ska — known to some as Lake Calhoun — will reopen on Sunday. The park board said the bike and boat rental facility will reopen on Monday.

A dumpster and construction equipment sit outside the burned pavilion.
A dumpster and construction equipment sit outside the burnt pavilion at Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis on Friday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Lola on the Lake owner Louis King said he's working with food trucks and other businesses to employ his staff and provide food at the park.

"I have cooks and servers and cashiers who are looking for a place to go — we can integrate them into [other] businesses and then their businesses can integrate into what we do at the lake via their trucks, and we still get to serve people at the lake," he said.

King said his staff served about 60,000 people last summer.

An excavator and other construction equipment sit outside.
An excavator and other construction equipment sit outside of the burnt pavilion at Bde Maka Ska on Friday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

He said he was disturbed by how response to the fire also involved disagreement over the name of the lake, which has been the subject of a lengthy debate and court challenges.

King said his staff is planning to launch what he calls "Lola's summer of unity."

"[We're] trying to bring the community together and be thankful for the lake that was given to us, and be thankful for life and the ability to just come out and have a good time. And that's what we're going to focus on as a theme this year," King said.

In addition to welcoming food trucks to the lakefront as a short-term solution until a new pavilion is built, the park board said it's bringing portable toilets to the area.

"First and foremost, we're grateful no one was injured in the fire," Brad Bourn, park board president, said in a news release. "We're all sad at the damage to the beautiful building but park staff are working diligently to make sure that folks' enjoyment of Bde Maka Ska is not interrupted."