Park District sets eyes on new Nelson Park amphitheatre
DECATUR-- Ever looking ahead, the Decatur Park District has begun preliminary discussions on a possible multi-use amphitheatre to be built in what is currently the parking lot just west of Pavilion 1 in Nelson Park.
“This is all part of the overall master plan,” Park board president Chris Riley said. “We want to start getting some of these ideas out into the public as a way to show people that we are serious with moving forward with these projects, we aren’t just talking about doing these things, we are actually getting out there and doing them.”
Riley says the amphitheatre would add some visual appeal to the lakefront, as well as serve as an entertainment option that Decatur currently lacks, “People always say they are going out of town to see concerts or plays and with this structure they wouldn’t have to go anywhere and we could actually bring people to Decatur for that type of thing.”
The plans are still in their infantile stage, as funding has not been secured for the project, but the rough projections show that seating could range from 300 to over 1,000. “Building it where we have proposed works perfectly, not only does it offer a beautiful view of the lake but some seating would be able to be added alongside the hill next to Pavilion 1, Riley says. The rendering shows just over 300 permanent seating structures, with several hundred more available to be made on the grass.
To fund the project, Riley says the park district is applying for a $2.5 million PARC grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Riley says the grant would cover a majority of the project that is expected to cost between $3 and $3.5 million dollars.
The park district will apply for the grant later this summer and will be notified if they received it or not by the fall; Riley says if everything goes according to plan, construction could start as early as Spring of 2015.
Several residents attended the public hearing on Wednesday to voice their support, “I have lived in Decatur for over 40 years and I use Nelson Park nearly every day and I can’t begin to say how nice everything is that has happened so far, and I’m looking forward to this project as well,” Pat Nolan said. “Nothing good comes without pain and I know the park district has experienced a lot of that so far, I just want to say a majority of people support what you are doing, a strong silent majority.”
In other news, the district approved the purchase of 60 new golf carts. Golf Director Kurt Rogers says some carts in their fleet date back to 2006. The board also approved a contract extension with Air Choice One for two additional years. Airport Director Joe Attwood says the contract will be prorated to a start date of January 1, 2014.