By Sarah Snyder
It's a gesture of goodwill, deteriorating day by day in Midland. The Olympics in Beijing has a the world's attention turned to the nation of China, and in Midland, we have our very own ties to a city in China.
Midland's sister city, Dongying, is located in the province directly south of Beijing.
In 2001, artists from Dongying came to build a pavillion as a gift to Tall City neighbors, but because Midland didn't have enough funding, it's deteriorating.
And that's angered some Midlanders.
Now, changes are on the way.
They put the pavillion at Beal Park, on the corner of Business 20 and Loop 250, but the structure has gone untreated in the past seven years, and the damage is pretty extensive.
"Oh, it just breaks my heart," Donna Patty, who walks in Beal Park every day, said.
"I'm very disappointed to see the Pagoda damaged like it has been," Former Mayor Bobby Burns, said.
The scars and cracks have people talking.
"Shortly after I came out of office," Burns said, "They chose this location to put the Pagoda. It's very visible from the Loop, a lot of good points to it, but I think, in the end, it may not have been the right choice simply because, some damage, vandalism, some things have occured and the end result was not what the city wanted."
The city originally chose this location in hopes of creating an international park, but because of the lack of funding, that didn't happen.
"There's been some work in progress," Monette Burke, Director of Community Services for the City of Midland, said. "I know it appears like a long time to the public, but funding was an issue and there's been an issue also of getting the Chinese artists to come back over to do the work."
Donna Patty recently brought her family to the park.
"They've been watching the Olympics on TV, so even though I'd brought them to the Pagoda before, there was a renewed interest because they had seen sites around Beijing and they had seen pavillions in Beijing and this was a chance to see one up close," she said.
But she says they were saddened by the damage.
"They can't believe that people would actually try to tear something apart that is so beautiful," Patty said.
So the Sister City Association, along with the City of Midland, is planning a restoration.
"There will be a drive by area where you can look at it, and admire it," Burke said. "That will be located at Windlands Park, we're going to incorporate some landscaping around it and make it something that we can be proud of."
Bobby Burns had the chance to visit Dongying while he was Mayor.
"They're very much an oil and gas city, just like Midland is," he said. "So we really value that relationship, that friendship, and we want to honor the gift they gave us.
City leaders plan to raise the money for the project and they estimate the total cost at about $70,000.
Right now, they're waiting on donations and hope to begin restoration by next Spring.