Park amphitheater sparks funding debate
by Joshua Sharpe
June 23, 2013 12:00 AM | 3141 views | 1 1 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The city of Canton may be approaching a problem on whether to fund an amphitheater as part of the Etowah River Park — the city’s newest park being paid for mostly by countywide parks bonds, and some city funds.

During the Canton City Council meeting Thursday night, Councilman John Beresford, who has taken the lead on the city’s planning of the park, brought a request to the council for an additional $291,000 in city funding for construction on the park.

This extra funding would be for the construction of a large amphitheater in the park, which sits at the end of Brown Industrial Parkway in the Canton-Cherokee Industrial Park, he said.

Etowah River Park is being funded primarily by the $90 million parks bond approved by voters for Cherokee County, which gave Canton a $3.1 million share for the construction. City Manager Scott Wood said Friday that the city has also spent $418,000 on top of the $3.1 million for the park.

Beresford said during the meeting Thursday that the amphitheater would be “the crown jewel” of the park and bring in visitors to the city.

Councilman Glen Cummins, though, spoke out during the meeting in opposition of moving forward with building it, at least for now.

“Believe me, I love the idea (of the amphitheater),” Cummins said. “(But) we’re not considering the impact it’s going to have on future budgets. We have significant other issues in the city. It’s a nice thing to have, but it’s not necessarily a need.”

Beresford, though, said the council needed to act as soon as possible, because the bid on building the amphitheater might not be honored once the rest of the construction is complete and the contractor has left the land.

“What (the contractor) said is as long as they are on site, they will honor that bid,” Beresford said. “They are ready to move ahead.”

Cummins said this shouldn’t be the issue.

“Whether he’s going to leave or not leave shouldn’t be the primary motivation,” he said.

Cummins also asked Beresford why the city couldn’t get a sponsor to pay for constructing the amphitheater.

Beresford said he had talked with potential sponsors for the park and they each said that they would have to wait until the park is open and see how many people it would bring in before committing.

Councilman Jack Goodwin said he’d heard the same response from potential sponsors.

“I’ve spoken to (them) too, and what they’re saying is ‘No’ until they can see it in place,” he said.

The City Council’s discussion on spending $291,000, which Beresford said could come from the SPLOST 6 fund, counted as the first reading of the ordinance to amend the city’s budget. For the council to go through with the payment, it must be approved in a vote at the next meeting, which has been moved from July 4 to July 11.

Beresford said Friday that the amphitheater would be a “major draw for the city of Canton” and would also keep Canton residents — and their dollars — in the city.

“It’s about time” Canton had a venue for concerts and other events, he said, and he’s tired of waiting.

During the City Council’s meeting Thursday night, the council also:

• Voted unanimously — with Councilman Bob Rush absent — against waiving a building permit fee for the construction of an office building at the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir;

• Unanimously approved a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation for construction on Marietta Road;

• Voted unanimously to approve a contract for the oversight of the construction on the Marietta Road Streetscape project to Arcadis Construction Administration Services for about $137,000;

• Unanimously approved paying $120,000 to haul in dirt to cap a city landfill;

• Discussed creating a “transportation plan” in an effort to repair a number of roads with issues in the city. Mayor Gene Hobgood said some real estate developers have left roads in subdivisions incomplete, without the proper coating. The council voted unanimously to have City Manager Scott Wood look into the matter;

• Voted unanimously to ask construction groups to rework bids submitted for renovations and repairs to the municipal court chambers in City Hall. Two bids were submitted for the project and were both more than $700,000. The council asked that some of the less time sensitive parts of the project be removed from the bids;

• Unanimously approved a motion by Cummins to indefinitely postpone a study into funding new fire stations in the city; and

• Voted unanimously to take out a $300,000 loan to pay for repairs to a water facility at Harmon Field.

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Laine K. Wood
June 23, 2013
What happened to the river trails plan. It, too, needed roughly $300,000 to complete while the contractor is on site. Seems to me connecting the parks and getting folks exercising is more important than the amphitheater.
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