Although just preliminary, the Sedalia Park Board were presented the idea of constructing an outdoor/open air performing arts venue during its meeting Thursday night.
Sedalia Concert Band board President Stephen Broadbent spoke to the Park Board about the idea to place an outdoor theater in one of Sedalia’s parks. Several members of the Sedalia Concert Band attended the meeting to show their support for the proposed project. Broadbent said he has talked with Sedalia School District 200 staff, the Liberty Center Association for the Arts and other local arts groups and that all groups he spoke to also support the idea.
“(They) all supported the idea of being able to perform in the parks, have a much wider audience and also to display the talents of the Pettis County citizenry,” Broadbent told the board. “We have many, many talented musicians, I also talked with people in theater arts because we also have a lot of talented theatrical performers as well. Not only could we have a park band playing outside, but we could maybe have Shakespeare in the Park, other members of the board discussed possibly church services could happen.”
The Sedalia Concert Band offers summer concerts at Convention Hall at Liberty Park, and while Broadbent thanked the Park Board for the use of the building, he said some members and patrons would like to see the summer concerts return to an outdoor venue.
Parks and Recreation Director Mark Hewett added that after talking with his staff he thinks the Parks and Recreation Department could also utilize the space.
Hewett said if the venue is constructed, it would be in Liberty Park to allow close proximity to Convention Hall to move events inside quickly in case of inclement weather. He suggested starting on the project in 2018, if it is approved by the board.
Liberty Park already has a similar venue for concert performances, built in the late 1990s, but it is now too small for the Sedalia Concert Band. Hewett said he had considered tearing it down to build the proposed new one, but due to the money already spent on it, they are considering some options on what to do with it.
Hewett has consulted with Dennis Paul of Septagon Construction to get an idea of what the project might cost to see if it is even feasible for the department to consider. Paul suggested using a Poligon Park Architecture amphitheater that he has utilized in other communities. He provided a budget estimate for a 50-by-25 amphitheater, including landscaping, sidewalks, site grading, and electrical, between $175,000 to $200,000, depending on the final design.
The band members present seemed pleased with the ideas Hewett presented, although they said they would like to visit a community with one of the venues to see it in person.
No official decisions were made during the meeting, but the Park Board gave Hewett permission to move forward with the project.
During the Recreation Committee report, Rhiannon Foster reported that recreation staff has decided to work on recruiting more local lifeguards rather than contracting with a private company to provide staffing for lifeguards, something the staff had been considering.
“Our problem is, this past summer was our worst year we’ve ever had with kids wanting to work. … We’re dangerously close to losing seven or eight this year,” Hewett said.
To help recruit more, recreation staff members will be visiting area high schools to talk with students about getting certification through the Red Cross. Hewett said they will be watching the budget and staffing closely for summer 2017 because if the staffing problem continues, they may relook at contracting services. Warrensburg Parks and Recreation uses a staffing company, according to Hewett, due to difficulty securing local lifeguards.
Kristy Woolery and Megan Simon were absent.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.