Snags take center stage in amphitheater forum

By TONY RAAP
Herald Staff Writer

FERDINAND — Concerns about noise, cost and location dominated a public forum Wednesday evening on whether to build an amphitheater at 18th Street Park.

About 40 people, mostly homeowners who live near the park, crowded into Ferdinand Town Hall to tell the town council and park board what they think of the proposal.

Several were forced to stand during the 90-minute meeting because the spectators’ gallery could not hold enough chairs to seat everyone.

Most said they are not opposed to an amphitheater but rather the location. Town officials have discussed putting a permanent stage in the park’s northwest corner, which is bordered by homes.

Pat Haake, who lives next to the park, said parking is already tight. He said it’s hard to drive down the street when the neighborhood has a yard sale. An amphitheater would exacerbate the problem.
“This is a very inappropriate place to put a stage,” Haake said.

Another concern is noise. Haake said most who live near the park are retired or close to retirement age. An amphitheater could mean loud concerts, an idea that doesn’t sit well with Dennis Werne.

“If this is being considered right in my backyard, I want to see a noise ordinance,” he said.

Aaron Hopf said that when the park hosts a festival, illegal parking is rampant with cars blocking driveways. Hopf, whose home borders the park, also claims to have seen festivalgoers urinate on people’s yards.

It’s bad enough to have to deal with that a few times a year, he said. He worries that building a permanent stage would make things worse.

Several wondered whether an amphitheater would lead to a tax increase but were told it’s too early to tell.

Town officials have applied for a $15,000 grant from the Dubois County Community Foundation, but the proposal would rely heavily on private donations.

Ken Sicard, town council president, said an amphitheater could cost as much as $130,000. He estimated that the stage would be 20 feet long, 40 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Scott Tretter, park board president, said no decisions have been made on where to put the amphitheater. It wouldn’t have to be in the park’s northwest corner. It could be built in another part of the park.

“We haven’t decided on a location,” he said, “or if it’s even going to get built.”

For years, town officials have talked of building an amphitheater at the park. If approved, it’s unclear when work would get underway.

Chris and Tina Roos suggested that the town rent a portable stage rather than build a permanent structure. A few times a year, mostly during festivals, their neighborhood is flooded with people who come to the park.

A permanent stage would mean that “all of sudden you got people there every weekend in your backyard,” Chris Roos said.

Others said the town should try to preserve green space. If an amphitheater is put in the northwest corner, the park would lose a meadow, where children sled and toboggan in the winter and play games in the warmer months.

A big supporter of the proposal is Drew Weyer, a senior at Forest Park High School. Weyer and other local musicians often have what they call “guitarbecues,” where they bring a casserole and their guitars and play music and eat food.

“We’ve been looking for a different venue to have it instead of having it at people’s houses all the time,” Weyer said. “I think it’d be neat to have it at the amphitheater.”

Debbie Johnson, town council member, said the town needs more “opportunities for entertainment.” An amphitheater would serve as a platform for young people to showcase their creative talents.
“If we don’t provide some of the things that they love, they’re not going to come back to this community,” she said, later adding, “it’s a whole quality-of-life issue.”

Johnson said the next step is for the town council and park board to have another public forum. A date has yet to be scheduled.

Contact Tony Raap at traap@dcherald.com.    




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