January 15—Final week, Mayor Tab Bowling’s proposal to put in a $631,561 outside sound and lighting system on the Daikin Amphitheater in downtown Founders Park was met with a chilly response from councilors, however artists are embracing the thought.
Core Development Group created a plan for potential enhancements to Bowling utilizing a design from Barnett Panorama, Structure + Planning. The providing contains outside sound and lightweight, building, energy upgrades and engineering and undertaking administration.
“The sound and lighting within the amphitheater has been an issue. The amphitheater shouldn’t be used fairly often,” Bowling instructed Metropolis Corridor.
The proposed undertaking will embody the remaining $142,500 from cash donated by Daikin America. This reduces the price of town to $508,088.
“We obtained a really good donation from Daikin and the amphitheater was underutilized so it is an opportunity to enhance it,” Bowling stated. “We wish to discover methods to enhance town’s high quality of life and this undertaking will permit us to carry extra occasions there.”
Brian Leighton of Southern Sound says “one of many apparent causes” that the amphitheater within the park in entrance of the Outdated State Financial institution is not used a lot is that it must be used in the course of the day as a result of there isn’t any outside lighting.
Leighton additionally stated it wasn’t used as a result of artists needed to deliver their private sound techniques and lighting.
He stated the sound system for the proposed undertaking could be straightforward to make use of with a locked controller. He estimated that the lifespan of sound and lighting tools could be 10 to fifteen years.
Leighton stated the sound system will meet 90 to 95% of regional artists’ wants.
“Folks can hang around with out having to hold round numerous gear,” Leighton stated. “It additionally permits bigger bands to placed on a present the way in which they need. A regional band typically requires a sure high quality, which is totally different from what somebody like Taylor Swift would possibly need.”
It isn’t the primary time Bowling has supplied upgrades. In 2019, he recommended that the municipality use a Daikin grant of $160,000 for sound and lighting techniques within the amphitheater. He made the advice once more in 2020, estimating that town ought to cowl $30,000 of the price, along with the $160,000 Daikin donation on the time.
His proposals didn’t obtain consideration within the earlier Metropolis Council and are actually seen with skepticism by some present councillors.
Councilors Kyle Pike, Carlton McMasters and Hunter Pepper stated that they had hassle with the proposed price of greater than $500,000.
“It is an enormous quantity for me,” McMasters stated. “High quality of life tasks are vital, however I’ve numerous questions.”
Leighton stated he believes Founders Park can accommodate “a crowd of 5,000 to eight,000” with a preferred however older band just like the .38 Particular or the Marshall Tucker Band.
Pike and McMasters stated they doubted the Founders Park may maintain between 5,000 and eight,000 individuals, and questioned how it will be managed, how the surroundings could be secured, and the place attendees would park if it had an motion that drew massive crowds.
Pepper stated he was grateful for Daikin’s assist in enhancing Founders Park. However he stated he was in opposition to spending extra metropolis cash on the amphitheater.
“I do not wish to spend a penny[on the amphitheater]of my voters’ cash,” Pepper stated. “That is $508,000 of the taxpayers’ cash that might go to many different tasks which can be wanted within the metropolis. I’ll vote no, and hopefully different councilors will vote no with me.”
Pepper recommended the cash might be used to switch the roof of the Fireplace and Police Coaching Heart on Outdated Freeway 31 within the metropolis’s Flint space. Fireplace Chief Tracy Thornton stated there have been main leaks within the roof and town was contemplating a suggestion to pay Johns and Kirksey Inc. $283,400 to switch the roof.
Pepper additionally stated he does not imagine the amphitheater will herald an artist that can entice 5,000 to eight,000 individuals.
“If we put collectively 5,000 individuals, I will give each little bit of my cash to the undertaking,” Pepper stated.
Town renewed its open-air live performance sequence, now generally known as Decatur Park Concert events, in 2022 and started holding it within the amphitheater-only within the spring and fall. The sequence of musical performances was beforehand generally known as Concert events by the River and is positioned in Rhodes Ferry Park, however the final three concert events of the 2016-19 season have been held on the amphitheater.
The COVID pandemic canceled the sequence in 2020 and shortened it in 2021, however every live performance on the amphitheater up to now yr usually attracted just a few hundred individuals.
Native playwright, director and actor Chuck Puckett, retired from Financial institution Road Gamers, has lengthy advocated the set up of sunshine and sound techniques within the amphitheater and reiterated on Friday that this is able to considerably enhance the utility of the house.
“I do not imply to magnify the apparent, however you’ve got doubled the quantity of issues you are able to do there,” Puckett stated. “You possibly can placed on evening performances. You possibly can deliver in additional bands.”
He stated we will discover an instance of profit at Decatur Park Concert events.
“They go on till it will get darkish however after darkish you possibly can’t see a shit. A lighting system extends that. Right here within the amphitheater they’ve an incredible scene with a slope the place individuals can put their blankets or chairs. It is the right place to have it, however in case you have this type of facility and also you’re maximizing it. When you do not use it, it is a disgrace.”
Puckett stated he directed and performed some productions within the amphitheater and this put an enormous pressure on the volunteers as they needed to set up and take away transportable sound and lightweight techniques after every apply and efficiency. It is a burden that can deter many productions from selecting the amphitheater as their venue, he stated.
Councilor Billy Jackson stated he is all the time supported issues like live performance sequence, however on this case he is involved that town is not doing its due diligence on amphitheater enhancements.
“I’m not conscious of any discussions with these round relating to elevated quantity, hours or further site visitors. We didn’t handle vital points comparable to toilet services,” Jackson stated.
Jackson stated he does not suppose the council ought to transfer on to the undertaking now, as it is not within the 2023 fiscal funds.
“This undertaking will price our residents $508,000 and ought to be addressed on the mid-year funds revision or at funds time, except we now have purpose to deal with it instantly,” Jackson stated. “I understand that state legislation requires us to undertake a funds, but when we’ll spend no matter budgetary concerns, then the funds has no which means for town.”
Councilor Jacob Ladner stated he thought it was vital for the amphitheater to have a sound and lighting system that might be simply utilized by native musicians and theater corporations, however acknowledged that there could be main challenges for a present that will entice a big crowd.
“It is okay to make issues straightforward for native bands and theater corporations,” Ladner stated. “One of many complaints I’ve heard is concerning the lack of sunshine and sound within the amphitheater.”
Bowling stated he had heard from councilors about the price. He stated he had been engaged on the undertaking for a number of years and sadly inflation had elevated the price in comparison with early estimates.
“We might be on the lookout for methods to current the undertaking instead,” Bowling stated. “Possibly we’ll activate the lights first and do the sound system another time.”
In September 2013, the Metropolis Council authorized the development of the amphitheater and the amphitheater opened in Might 2015. The $385,000 amphitheater began with a $100,000 contribution from Daikin. Town additionally acquired a $125,000 authorities grant. The preliminary estimate for the development price was $200,000, however prices have elevated partly as they attempt to scale back site visitors noise from Wilson Road Northwest. Added a dust bar as a noise buffer.
Hugh Lengthy, a drama professor at Athens State College who works on the Alabama Heart for the Arts and is the inventive director of the Athenian Gamers, was on the unique design committee for the amphitheater. He stated sound and lighting techniques have been a part of the long-term plan on the time, and he feels they’re essential to make full use of the house and maximize its profit to Decatur.
“You possibly can’t have a efficiency that does not direct the sound to the viewers,” he stated, and that is particularly vital in an amphitheater subsequent to Wilson Road and the noisy truck site visitors.
By including lighting, night performances will encourage attendees to go to close by downtown eating places, Lengthy stated.
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