All systems appear to be go for a group of young women to spearhead a project that will bring an outdoor amphitheater to St. Clair.
During its meeting last week, the board of aldermen approved a motion to proceed with the project in Evergreen Park, as long as the group, which calls itself Friends for Change, provides letters of intent regarding services and costs, its escrows funds and obtains all of the necessary permits.
Friends for Change members appeared before a city board for the third time on June 3. During a previous aldermen meeting, they were asked to get guaranteed price commitments and more detailed information to see the project through.
Parks and recreation board members during their April meeting recommended the project to the aldermen.
Friends for Change is a group of local teenage girls who describe themselves as “entrepreneurs who want to provide a place for safe and enjoyable events in St. Clair.”
Through the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s Challenge and Change program, the group secured a three-year, $15,000 grant it would like to use to fund the project. Friends for Change members proposed the amphitheater be built in Evergreen Park and that it take advantage of the contour of the land there to provide hillside seating.
The grant money would pay for the amphitheater, but the group also would solicit donations. Friends for Change’s time line has work beginning on the facility this summer and it being finished by fall 2014.
The group already has its first-year grant allotment of $5,000. Another $5,000 will be available this fall. The final $5,000 will come next year.
“Well done, thank you,” Mayor Ron Blum told Friends for Change members on June 3 after they updated the project and provided the new information requested.
The board was reminded that all labor costs will be volunteer. Some of that volunteer force will include members of the St. Clair High School football team, SCHS teacher Craig Kindel’s woodworking class and the Adventure Scouts, group members said.
Anyone else interested is encouraged to volunteer.
According to rough drawings and the plans, the structure itself would be built on the east side of the drainage ditch that flows through the park, and seating would be on the west side. The building would be three sided with a concrete floor and walls and a metal roof.
The proposed dimensions are 40 feet across the front of the stage, 30 feet across the back and 24 feet deep. The walls would be 8 feet high, and the roof would be peaked.
According to the group’s estimate, all the materials — including concrete, site preparation and excavation and roofing materials — would cost about $14,000.
“The young leaders in St. Clair strongly feel that their community is suffering from a lack of social cohesiveness and opportunities for artistic expression,” information from Friends for Change stated. “The young ladies believe that this lack of a common area for expression, demonstration, gathering and celebration has a negative impact on cross-generational relationships as well as an isolating effect on people on both ends of the age spectrum.
“The girls believe that one way to address their struggling community is to provide an outlet for creativity and community engagement with the hopes of building social capital in their town.”
The amphitheater would be donated to the city, and residents could use it. Some kind of rental structure would be established similar to how pavilions or ball diamonds are reserved and used now.
Friends for Change also said it would like to use the amphitheater for events.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also is involved with the Challenge and Change program.
Current members of the organization are Hope Brady, Holly Clonts, Amber Logan, Brittany Lowe, Nikki Miller, Miranda Murphy and Bethany Renado.
Suzy Haverstick is helping the girls with their proposed project, and her husband, a carpenter, will supervise the project.