LIMA — With downtown properties officially in hand, the Lima Rotary Club is one step closer to creating a downtown amphitheater and green space in an effort to add momentum to a downtown revival.
This Monday, former Rotary president Tracie Sanchez updated Rotary members on the project and laid out the most recent efforts to turn one half of a downtown city block, located along Union Street between Elm and Spring Streets, into the newly-named Lima Community Stage and Park. At this point in the venture, the Rotary Foundation owns the land, and now, Sanchez said, it’s time to consider both the funding and planning aspects of how to turn what is now a number of concrete buildings into a community green space dedicated to Lima’s cultural community.
Details are far from set in stone, but a meeting with key figures from the arts community helped lay out a wish list for the space. Arts Council President Bart Mills said he worked together with a number of groups, such as the Lima Symphony Orchestra, Art/Space and Octopus Productions, among others, to put together what would be required to turn the space into a functional performance venue for smaller community events as well as larger performances.
“If we want to do it, we want to do it right,” Mills said. “”Now that the conversation is moving forward, there is a lot more opportunity.”
Initial plans envision an updated stage, an astroturfed seating area for crowds as well as a number of public spaces for individuals to enjoy a sunny day downtown.
Before the plans become a reality, however, the Lima Rotary Club needs the funds do so. Along with announcing updated plans, the rotary also kick-started a fundraising campaign with a total goal of collecting $1 million for the project.
Husky Energy became the first to contribute toward that goal announcing a $20,000 donation moments after the kick-off.
Amy Nusbaum, Husky’s senior manager of communications, said the project would reinvigorate Lima’s downtown and “create a ripple effect” to improve the area’s livability in order to keep and attract talent in Lima.
Sanchez said the entire project is estimated to cost upwards of $2 million, but being able to fundraise up to $1 million will show community buy-in of the project, which will aid efforts in gaining additional state funding. A prior meeting between city officials and state legislators has already confirmed the city’s dedication to the project.
“There’s already so many people who have already helped get this project off the ground,” Sanchez said.
The Rotary Club is looking to raise at least $100,000 of that total through GoFundMe, a fundraising website, as well as social media efforts.
As for the project’s timeline, Sanchez said initial demolition of the buildings currently on the lot near the intersection of Union and Spring streets will begin this summer, and by the fall, the space will be little more than a big grassy field. Next steps will be considered as planning is solidified and additional funds are confirmed.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.