Breathing Life into Bones: Avery Park’s ‘Dino Bones’ to Be Repaired

Photo by Nathaniel Brodie.

Avery Park’s “dinosaur bones” have seen better days.
Originally designed as an art piece by OSU students in the late 1970s, the bones quickly proved attractive to children.

But either because the structure wasn’t designed as a play area or because of Oregon’s climate, the bones haven’t weathered well. The octopus-like forms are now strikingly unsafe for children. Head-sized holes have exposed the rusty rebar and wire fencing of the superstructure; the concrete overlay is sharp and crumbling. Shortly after the floods of 2012 when the Mary’s River pooled up at the base of the structure, Corvallis Parks and Recreation fenced the dinosaur bones off for safety reasons. They’ve remained so ever since.

This hasn’t sat well with certain art-appreciating residents of Corvallis. At one point, an unknown citizen decided to take matters into his or her own hands and attempted to patch some of the holes. Jude Geist, Parks Supervisor, said the mysterious handyman didn’t do a very good job, and actually made things worse. More helpfully, an anonymous donor donated a significant amount of money to repair the dinosaur bones.

Provided with a $10,000 budget, Parks and Rec has called a number of contractors and restoration specialists to get cost estimates and ideas on how to make the structure as durable as possible while remaining true to the original form. Ideas have ranged from filling the structure’s hollow cores with foam to replacing the outer surfacing with material other than concrete.
There’s not yet a timeline for repairs.

“We would have loved to have it done by June,” Geist said, “but it’s looking like it may take a while longer than that.

“We want our repairs to last as long as possible. We made some minor patches on them a few years ago, and that’s one of the reasons we’re taking our time now, to make sure that whatever job we do will be a long-term solution. We also have to make sure whatever plan we decide on will reflect the true cost of the repairs. We don’t just want to throw money at it.”

by Nathaniel Brodie