Amphitheater in park concerns neighbors

Herald Staff Writer

FERDINAND — After the Ferdinand Town Council heard suggestions Tuesday evening for where an amphitheater could be placed in 18th Street Park, a lengthy discussion ensued with residents who live near the park.

At least four of the dozen residents at the meeting said they don’t want the amphitheater to be placed in the park at all. Another resident said that if it must go in the park, it should not be placed in the northwest corner, near the neighborhoods.

Park Board President Scott Tretter told the council that the amphitheater committee has met twice since the council’s last meeting and has come up with four potential sites in the park. They are:

Ӣ Just south of the Ferdinand Community Center and east of the library. The town does not own that property, Tretter said.

Ӣ South of 18th Street and east of the community center. In that area, the amphitheater would face south, Tretter said.

Ӣ The northwest corner of the park, near East 20th Street and Northview Drive.

Ӣ Near the playground, which is north of 18th Street and east of the baseball field.

Tretter said it would cost an estimated $200,000 for the amphitheater, and site preparation could cost an additional $28,000 to $140,000, depending on which site is chosen.

Northview Drive resident Pat Haake said neighbors don’t want the permanent structure in the park because it will bring more congestion and will overwhelm the neighborhood. “You are putting something there that doesn’t fit,” he said. “We’re the ones who will be suffering so that everyone else can do this.”

Councilwoman Deb Johnson said the council originally was under the impression that the neighbors objected only to placing the structure in the northwest corner of the park. The structure would be rather small, “nothing like the size of the Lincoln Amphitheatre,” she said. Tretter added that it would be similar in size to the shelterhouse that is in the park.

“That isn’t the point,” said David Oeding, another nearby neighbor who is against the placement. He said neighbors expressed their concerns during the park board’s meeting last Wednesday.

“The majority of the people at that (board) meeting said not to put it in 18th Street Park,” he said. “Why would you even consider it in the northwest corner of the park?”

Tretter said that the northwest corner is the most functional site of those suggested, but he thinks people will park on the nearby streets if the amphitheater is placed there. He admitted to parking on the street when he went to look at the site himself.

Tina Roos, who lives on Northview Drive, said that if the structure must be in the park, it should not be in the northwest corner. “If it’s in that corner, the access (to it) will be Northview Drive and 20th,” she said. “People are not going to access it through the park.” She said that more police patrol would be needed since there would be more constant traffic, more parking and more people hanging out on the streets.

Neighbors asked if the town has considered having a portable stage that could be moved anywhere; council President Ken Sicard said that is also a consideration. Other questions concerned how often people could use the structure and if they had to rent it in advance. Tretter said it would operate like any other shelter. It could be reserved for a fee; but if it isn’t reserved, any resident could show up at the park and use it for no charge.

Sicard said the committee is just looking at options at this time. An amphitheater could be used for the annual folk fest and Heimatfest as well as by community groups, like the high school for plays, Johnson said.

The neighbors in the audience also asked if the town is considering leaving things as they are and not adding anything.

“That is possible too,” Sicard said.

Contact Candy Neal at

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