Arts Council schedules public meeting for planning downtown Lee’s Summit festival space

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 14, 2014 

The Lee’s Summit Arts Council is gearing up for planning a festival space and stage at 123 Third Street.

The Arts Council, now with additional directions from the city council members, met March 11, and due to time constraints, decided to end its ad hoc committee working on the project.

Instead it will work as a whole, and at city staff’s recommendation, agreed to work on two alternatives, one incorporating Arnold Hall (perhaps utilizing its bathrooms and for storage space) and one without using the building.

It will be meeting with architects Hollis+Miller at 6:30 p.m. March 19 in the Howard Conference room at City Hall to discuss concepts already offered by community groups, and past concepts, and then work on its own recommendation. The Arts Council is specifically inviting interested groups to attend, but the meeting also is open to the public.

As the group discussed the plan this week, Arts Council member Brad Cox warned that it needs to be mindful that there is a $600,000 budget.

While the city is saving money by not buying land, because it already owns the site, demolishing asphalt on the parking lot and grading could eat up a lot of the savings, Cox said.

He also said the city already has a litany of concepts, developed in several reports and at an earlier charrette held on the outdoor space. He asked those be reviewed for the Arts Council when it holds the charrette.

Cox, who has worked on earlier proposals for reusing Arnold Hall, suggested the Arts Council avoid temptation to “design” the festival space or any Arnold Hall improvements.

“That’s a dangerous place for this group to go,” Cox said. “It would be very easy to dilute what the voters were presented and what they voted for.”

The plan is to present the Arts Council recommendation to the City Council April 17.

The Arts Council also asked a few questions of Council members Rob Binney and Ed Cockrell, who attended the meeting.

Mike Ekey asked if they were to contemplate tearing down the building. That’s off limits.

Carole Gray asked if there was any chance of selling Arnold Hall, then using that money to help buy land on Market Street to return the festival space to the original location that was intended when bonds were voted on.

She said that when the Summit Arts group decided to move its festival downtown, it was with the assumption the festival space would be on Market Street.

Cockrell said the answer would be no.

“The council is clear in its direction,” Cockrell said. “My advice to you is not muddy the water with that debate.”

Cockrell also advised the Arts Council that the budget is $600,000.

“Unless the council says we love this concept, we need to squeeze somewhere else,” he said.

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