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Committee will look at solutions for amphitheater

Last year’s Concert in the Park Series was all wet from heavy rain showers and water drainage issues.
Most of the concert series was cancelled last year and finally moved to the Ray County Historical Museum at the end of the season.
Park Board President Joyce Bowles, Recreation Director Haley Morrissey and City Administrator Rick Childers recently met with the program’s organizer, Bob Moses, about what should be done about some of the issues that had the concert series floating in water.
Bowles said Moses’ single biggest issue with the amphitheatre is the drainage.
Childers said the city could run a drainage tube under the road leading down to the lake area, but said it would not be much drier on the bottom end, however it would stabilize the amphitheatre’s banks from eroding.
Another solution that has been discussed, is building a stage up about four feet so that electrical equipment would be out of the water, however Childers said Moses was more interested in alleviating the drainage.
Childers said other drainage solutions were also discussed.
“He is much more interested in seeing something there than having a stage,” Childers said. “All of those things need to be part of the drainage project because they’re all going to impact what the stormwater does and all of the stormwater in that area will collect in that bowl. How all of that is handled needs to be part of the stormwater study.”
The drainage project is part of an overall rehab of the entire park. The board has solicited one bid for a stormwater study and is awaiting another from a local engineer. With new tax money coming in, the board plans on addressing drainage issues and parking with the study. In the center of the drainage issue is the amphitheater.
Childers also cautioned that work at the park could be much more extensive than what funding is available. He also said the school district needs to be consulted because future plans of school property could affect the study.
“It doesn’t look like to me that there is much chance the money is going to be there to do the actual stormwater work,” Childers said. “You can probably get the plan done, but I don’t think you can get the work done. I think there is going to be quite a bit of costs involved.”
The board already approved to give $8,000 toward any upgrades to the amphitheater when the budget was put together in September. Cost of installing a drainage tube will come out of that budget. Some board members questioned whether or not money should be spent on the current location.
“I’m thinking this is going to be a lot of money to fix a problem,” board member Dale Swope said. “Maybe there’s a better location? Is there a better place to start from scratch on?”
Childers said he didn’t know if there was a better spot.
“You need that hillside adjacent,” Childers said. “I don’t know what other land we really have. I don’t know if there’s a better place we could put it.”
Former Recreation Director Rob Kinnard suggested that decisions be put on hold until a firm plan can be developed.
“It seems to me over the years we’ve tried to piecemeal and patch the amphitheater,” Kinnard said.
Photo: The city’s amphitheater at Southview Park hosted virtually no concerts last year due to rain and water problems. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)

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