The Lebanon City Council approved construction of an amphitheater Monday night that will be used for the Lebanon Route 66 Festival and other events in Boswell Park. The goal is for the structure to be ready in time for the 2021 festival on Father’s Day weekend.
The Lebanon Park Board approved the project at its meeting last Wednesday. Council approval means engineering can start immediately.
“An amphitheater has been a project that the parks have had in their plans for a few years now,” according to an informational sheet provided to the council by Parks Director John Shelton.
“Each year the Route 66 Festival is held at Boswell Park and the biggest expense of the event is the rental of a stage. Building an amphitheater will alleviate these cost(s) and also provide a venue in the park system for us to host concerts, plays, and other musical events that we currently do not have a venue for.”
The Parks and Recreation Department is one of three hosts of the annual Route 66 Festival, along with the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, which raises money for the event, and the Lebanon Tourism Department.
“I am happy. I’m unbelievably happy,” Route 66 Society President Bruce Owen, who attended the meeting, said Tuesday.
“I think it’s going to surprise everyone how much it’s used and how many different things it will be used for,” Owen said.
The prefabricated, 40-by-25 metal amphitheater will be purchased from Poligon Park Architecture of Holland, Mich., for $69,936, which includes installation. Olsson Inc., an engineering and design firm that provides professional services to the city, will do design, survey and construction services related to the project for $8,300. Concrete work for foundation and sidewalks will be performed by city staff.
City officials have said the project will be paid for with a portion of savings from the Cowan Civic Center remodeling project, which came in under budget, along with funds from the park board.
Construction of an outdoor pavilion in a Lebanon park also was on the list of future projects when voters renewed the city’s capital-improvement tax in 2018.
The amphitheater will be built in right-center field of what now is a ballfield at Boswell Park. Additional ballfields were built this year at new Nelson Park, which alleviate the need for a single field at Boswell Park.
Owen praised Shelton and City Administrator Mike Schumacher for the job they did explaining the proposal and answering questions Monday night.
Councilman Josh Ray cast the only dissenting vote.
On Tuesday, Owen noted that the land for Boswell Park was donated to the city by his grandparents, Frank and Dorothy Nelson. “Grandma and Grandpa would be happy,” he said.
In other Route 66-related business Monday night, the council approved goals and objectives for 2021.
The Economic Development and Tourism goals include installing three wayfinding signs “to better direct tourism traffic within the City including, but not limited to, Route 66 and Downtown Lebanon attractions.” Another tourism goal is to continue “advertising efforts that have been successful in years past focusing on Bennett Spring, Gospel Sing, Route 66, and Lake of the Ozarks with evaluation of new opportunities that may arise . . .”
A goal under “Additional City-Wide Efforts” is to develop “and implement a master plan for walking trails and sidewalks to improve connectivity, including connecting existing walking paths and the creation of a Rt. 66 walking path with historic markers.”