SIDNEY — After two years in the making, finally a ribbon cutting was held Friday afternoon for the new Binkley Pavilion located in the Aschenbach Grove in Tawawa Park. The pavilion has been open for use since April 2022.
Roughly about 40 people attended the ribbon cutting on the warm Friday afternoon, including members of Albert Binkley Dickas and the Aschenbach families, the Community Foundation of Shelby County, Sidney City Council, Sidney Recreation Board and Sidney Parks and Recreation staff.
Dickas, a former Sidney resident who now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, sponsored the construction of the memorial facility in the Aschenbach Grove, the site of the Big Rock, at Tawawa Park.
The Binkley Pavilion structure is named after Dickas’ maternal great-grandfather William Binkley. Binkley was the editor of The Sidney Journal from 1869 to 1905 and was a huge part of the development of Sidney, including the library, later named Amos Library, Dickas, told the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting.
“It’s been two years in the making,” Dickas said when asked how he feels about the day finally arriving for the ribbon cutting. “I’m pleased to be here, it’s a great day. It’s a nice turn out. It’s something that I’ve looked forward to because this park means a lot to me. It used to be a two-car parking lot up there and a little gravel path that came back to the Big Rock. Now it is a big gravel path and signs. They have done a beautiful job.”
The project, including the parking lot and pavilion, was privately funded by Dickas, who donated $120,000 for the project. The total cost was around $135,000.
The project included an asphalt drive leading up to a parking lot with a 26-foot circular pavilion, a gazebo, a parking lot, drainage the recognition/interactive signage and steel tables. Gaier previously said during a City Council meeting that $8,000 was also donated from Rueben Aschenbach heirs for the project, which included 21 crab apple trees planted and mulched. The project was also possible made possible by the Community Foundation of Shelby County.
Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier opened the ceremony from beneath the pavilion where numerous chairs were set out among multiple picnic tables for attendees. Gaier next introduced Recreation Board member Ed Thomas, who thanked Dickas for his contribution to Tawawa Park for enabling even more events to take place in Tawawa Park. Next Mayor Mardie Milligan gave a heartfelt thank you to Dickas for the donation to the city of Sidney’s Tawawa Park.
Aschenbach family member, MariAnne Antram, spoke for her family, saying her mother Polly had the foresight to realize the crabtrees in the family’s grove could need replacing and worked to raise the funds within the family to plant 21 new trees behind and along the new pavilion. She also encouraged those in attendance to visit the rest of Tawawa Park and go back and take a look at the Big Rock.
When Dickas spoke, he introduced his family who were present Friday, gave background information about Binkley and the impact he had upon Sidney, as well as explained how the Big Rock came to be in Sidney. Dickas also thanked Gaier for “the pleasure” of working together to make his idea a reality.
After praising all involved on the project, in closing, Gaier said, “Again the Aschenbach family, thank you so much for the contributions and planting these trees around here. Again this is going to make for a great backdrop for this pavilion down here. And again, Dr. Dickas, the community really appreciates your generosity and being kind-hearted and this is a great addition to be enjoyed for generations.”