GLASGOW – As the target time nears for the Glasgow Public-Private Parks Investigating Committee to have its recommendations ready for the Glasgow Common Council's consideration, the concept for city property along the 400 block of West Main Street is all but done.
A tentative floor plan and conceptual exterior plans have been decided, with full expectation that tweaks will probably be made here and there. The initial plan is for the portion in the block between West Main and West Water streets, and it would include an amphitheater with a roughly 4,000-person capacity, a farmers market pavilion and a splash pad. There has been discussion of uses like a playground and/or walking path in the adjacent block, between West Water and West Front streets, but those plans are much more tentative.
Most of the figures for a cost budget and some for the revenue side have been compiled, and suggested pledge funding levels are almost finalized, to the extent they can be, considering that the entire report has to receive city elected officials' approval before any of this goes forward. Many details such as parking and event ticketing and marketing options have been discussed at length. And a very rough first version, mostly the general format, of a written presentation for the mayor and council has been prepared.
With a few more pieces of information to be gathered and plugged in at the appropriate spots, Wes Simpson, who chairs the committee, aims to have it all set to take to the Dec. 23 council meeting, but he said at the group's regular meeting Wednesday that he wouldn't necessarily expect, or even desire, a vote that night.
One of the changes discussed this week was switching the planned locations for bathrooms and concessions, so the bathrooms would be closer to the splash pad, per a suggestion from Eddie Furlong, director of the Glasgow Parks and Recreation Department, because of regulations requiring certain proximities.
Councilman Patrick Gaunce has been working a something of a liaison on fundraising for some of the more significant private contributions, and he reported that in addition to two donors, one being his own family and the other being Don Baker, pledging $100,000, he's comfortable there's another $250,000 out there, but those people are trying to decide just how much they want to contribute. The Bale family has already committed verbally to making a pledge of $250,000 for the naming rights for the entire facility. So that would put them at around $700,000 total so far.
These are supposed to be matching funds to go along with what the city government would put in, putting the total at $1.4 million.
“If they match that, we can get a pretty good ways down the road,” Gaunce said, adding that his experience has been that once people see that it's moving along, the second million comes a little easier.
Simpson said that his hope is that once it becomes “a real thing,” some companies would come forward with some in-kind contributions of materials or labor.
Committee member Amy Vann said it needs to be clear that the private contributions are solely to be used for this project in this specific location.
Gaunce said the government leaders also need to be clear that some of the donors would not want this project to just sit on the shelf, that there is a risk of losing some of the pledges if they don't move on it in a timely manner.
Extensive conversation took place about meshing the management of events at the amphitheater with that of the city-owned Plaza Theatre, because the ticketing structure, vendors for lighting and sound and talent booking, and more are already in place, and what kind of additional responsibilities it would create for Carolyn Glodfelter, director of the Plaza, as well as for the Parks and Recreation Department.
Glodfelter was present for the meeting and had met with Simpson previously, and said she was on board with merging the efforts. She said the larger venue would “absolutely” open up new options for her in terms of the types of artists that could be drawn to perform here.
She discussed a lot of logistical and budgeting details as well and the economic impact of drawing people who stay overnight in the community, have meals here and purchase gasoline here and sometimes even shop here.
“I think this would be an enhancement not just for the Plaza or the city, but for everybody ...,” Glodfelter said. “I see it as an advantage.”
Right now, most of the bookings at the Plaza are for September through May, and this would bring things full circle.
Discussion also took place on the necessity for maintenance funding and potentially additional parks and recreation personnel for that.
Glodfelter suggested they could work it out so that the maintenance costs could be billed to the Plaza as a service, and it would be part of her budget that would be factored into ticket prices just like with other services.
Committee member Brandi Button suggested seeing whether jail inmates could help with trash pickup, mowing and certain other activities, but committee member David Jessie said they would need to be careful about the timing of that with the possibility of children playing there.