Leaders hope new park will stimulate growth in downtown Baldwin City

photo by: Submitted graphic/BG Consultants

The Baldwin City Council has approved this design for a $670,000 downtown park.

Construction will start next month on a new park in Baldwin City that local leaders hope will stimulate more development downtown.

Earlier this month, the Baldwin City Council approved the design for the so-called Lotatorium, as well as a construction contract not to exceed $670,000. The project will add sidewalks, a stage, a big-screen TV, a splash deck water feature and restrooms to the now-empty lot in the 700 block of High Street, which has long been a site of community events.

Ottawa-based Loyd Builders will start work on the park in mid-September, Baldwin City Mayor Casey Simoneau said. The work is expected to be completed by Dec. 1, depending on weather.

The project was delayed when initial bids for the park, submitted in May, were at least $400,000 more than the $670,000 the city had available. The city worked with Loyd Builders, the low bidder, to develop the less-costly design that was ultimately approved.

Baldwin City Councilman David Simmons said most of the savings came from a redesign of the stage, which was originally supposed to have a roof and dressing rooms. The approved design tops the stage, which will measure 20 feet by 25 feet, with a canopy instead of a roof. Simmons said the canopy would have overhead supports from which stage lighting could be hung.

A committee of area residents that had worked with the city on the stage’s original design also signed off on the new plan, Simmons said.

“They said it wasn’t all that they had hoped for, but it would do,” he said.

Another $50,000 was saved by replacing the planned 8-foot-by-15-foot LED TV with a rear-projection TV of the same size, Simmons said.

The Lotatorium is just one of the public and private improvements made in the last decade to enhance the downtown district, Simoneau said. Other enhancements include the expansion of the Baldwin City Public Library in 2014, the 2010 renovation of the downtown lumberyard into the Lumberyard Arts Center and the efforts of private investors to restore a number of old storefronts for retail or office space.

The Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce, the Lumberyard Arts Center, the Baldwin City Academy of Dance and Voice and the library have drawn residents and businesses to downtown, Simoneau and Simmons said, and Simmons is hopeful the Lotatorium will attract even more private developers.

“There are empty lots downtown,” he said. “Businesspeople want to make money. When they see all those people, they will see the opportunities and invest in downtown.”


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