Arts Council ready for recommendation on downtown performance space

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 25, 2014 

A view of 123 Third St. overlooking where a stage will be built, along with green space for seating, including some trees around a permieter defined with pavers, under a concepts to be offered to the City Council.

RUSS PULLEY — the Journal

The Lee’s Summit Arts Council will take its suggestions for a downtown outdoor stage and festival space to the city council soon.

It will present two very similar concepts to the Lee’s Summit City Council on May 1, both with an open stage just off Third Street across from City Hall, next to Arnold Hall at 123 Third St. The plan is for a stage, with lighting, that is configured so that it can be used for performances from a festival area to the south, with room for 450 people, or as a grandstand for events on Third Street, such as parades or road races, said Syrtiller Kabat, arts council chairwoman.

The two plans offer different shapes for the seating, one rectangular, the other more of an oval, the major difference being aesthetic. The rectangle perimeter could be more easily expanded in the future, architects said.

The council also outlined priorities for additional work, as long as there is money in the budget, she said. There would be landscaping, including tree wells and pavers on the perimeter of the festival area south of the stage.

If the $600,000 budget can be stretched far enough, alternatives in the recommendation include conduit under pavers and tree wells to eventually allow adding outlets for festival booths and a small remodeling of Arnold Hall to provide access to restrooms.

The estimate to utilize Arnold Hall for restrooms is $20,000, compared to between $100,000 and $150,000 for new restrooms, said Deputy City Manager Brian Scott.

The last priority alternative is to install some additional streetlights in the festival area, of the same style as the downtown streetlights, he said.

There have been suggestions that another approach is opening City Hall during concerts or events for its restrooms, but some arts council members were concerned about pedestrian traffic across Third Street. It could be a hazard, they said.

Another alternative is portable toilets but that’s a different kind of added expense and they are not as user friendly, Scott said.

“It’s up to the city (council), what they want to do with the bathrooms,” Kabat said.

Scott said the architects also suggested moving the south boundary for seating to slightly north toward Third Street to save construction costs, but that the area would still have room for seating 450 people as planned.

Kabat said she was a little frustrated that architects Hollis + Miller hadn’t provided the council with refined cost estimates which would allow the council to be more definite in its recommendation. It had scheduled a special meeting April 18, but had little more information to go on for finishing its work. Scott said that costs are being refined as decisions on the design allow more precision.

Hollis + Miller is being paid $130,000 for design work for the festival space and for work on the WPA Post Office renovation, split evenly between the two.

That taking roughly $65,000 bite leaves the construction budget at about $535,000.

The original plan for the festival space did not include building a bathroom, instead city officials and community leaders had envisioned those facilities as part of a building erected by a developer in a public/private partnership, or perhaps in the museum in the WPA Post Office restoration, Scott said.

That idea had a partnership with Dusty Dahmer who owned land west of the WPA Post Office on Main Street, which was the site first chosen for the festival space.

Dahmer and the city couldn’t agree on a purchase price for the land, so the city council shifted the project to 123 Third St.

The new site had the advantage of no purchasing price, but the disadvantage of needing to tear up asphalt to create green space. Scott said the Dahmer site also had extra costs for demolition, grading and installing landscaping, so it’s hard to compare the two.

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