It appears city officials are dumping the dream for an outdoor amphitheater at Sesquicentennial Point northeast of the Clinton Reservoir dam for an amphitheater in the soon-to-be developed Rock Chalk athletic complex at the city’s northwest corner.
Sesquicentennial Point overlooks Clinton Reservoir, the Wakarusa Valley and what could be one of the finest park lands and greenswards in the country. This park would extend from Clinton Dam east to the youth sports fields and connect to the Baker Wetlands.
The Sesquicentennial park/amphitheater effort was launched in 2004 at the time of the city’s 150th anniversary with a program and dedication of the site and placing of a time capsule to be opened in 2054 at Lawrence’s 200th anniversary.
It is a great site, one that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department helped get started. It has attracted more than $200,000 in private funds to help develop.
City officials have said the lack of power and water at this location is a severe handicap and that chances for developing an amphitheater are slim, very slim.
They now favor an amphitheater that developers of the athletic park are proposing. It would be used by Kansas University, KU Athletics and local groups, when it is not in use by the athletics department at KU.
The grandiose Rock Chalk park idea is indeed grand, but would Lawrence residents rather have an amphitheater as part of an athletic park or one that overlooks a beautiful and scenic valley and one dedicated to the history of Lawrence?
At this date, city officials favor the athletic park, turning their backs on the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission, Sesquicentennial Point development and those who have made private gifts to recognize significant dates in the city’s history and as seed money to help get the amphitheater site started.
Apparently, it’s full speed ahead for the athletics park and the accompanying major retail developments, a joint effort by the KU Athletics Department, the city of Lawrence, the KU Endowment Association and private developers.
Never mind the possible negative impacts on downtown Lawrence and/or to other projects such as Sesquicentennial Point and the amphitheater.