By Mallory Ragon
The Lee’s Summit Arts Council (LSAC) presented two conceptual plans for a proposed outdoor festival and performance space to the city council Thursday, May 1, 2014. The concepts were requested by the council in February as part of an ongoing process to decide how to create such a space, as approved by voters in the April 2013 $2.9 million general obligation bond issue.
The bond issue included approximately $600,000 in budget for the purchase and development of festival space in the downtown area. The council has already approved use of the vacant Arnold Hall building, located at 123 SE Third Street, and surrounding area for the project, allowing the full budget to be used for development.
LSAC considered project constraints, external needs, indoor uses, outdoor uses and Arnold Hall structural needs in the course of three meetings in April.
Both concepts include a central outdoor space to hold a minimum of 400-500 people and a raised stage area adjacent to Third Street, which would be the central focal point of the project. It was designed to be a multi-use space and consideration was given to circulation, the use of standard 10 foot-by-10 foot tents (as in an art festival), temporary concessions or food trucks, and synergy with Arnold Hall. The only noticeable difference between the two concepts is the lawn shape: one square and one oval.
The council collectively seemed perplexed by the price tag attached to the project.
“I guess I just don’t understand how this could cost $600,000,” said Councilmember Derek Holland. “Thank god we didn’t have to purchase land before developing it.”
Councilmember Rob Binney echoed the sentiments, observing that while the budget covered the costs of the stage, the green space, the concrete work and brick pavers, plantings and shade trees, benches, and power to the stage—a lot of other items were missing: GFI outlets, use of Arnold Hall, pedestrian lighting, and water service for drinking fountains or concessions.
According to the conceptual plans these additional items, while important, wouldn’t be essential to opening the project to the public and would be slated as add alternates during the bid process.
LSAC proposed use of Arnold Hall for public restrooms, which are functioning, though the cost of renovation was not included in the initial budget. While some cursory consideration was given to the building—possible office space that could be sectioned off from the public restrooms, potential development into cafes or shops—it was primarily excluded from the concepts.
Due to time constraints at the council’s regular session, the discussion was continued to the next meeting.