The St. Clair Parks and Recreation Board gave its blessing to a project spearheaded by a local young women’s organization that would bring an outdoor amphitheater to the city.
Park board members listened to a presentation from Friends for Change, a small group of local teenagers 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.
Current members of the organization are Hope Brady, Holly Clonts, Amber Logan, Brittany Lowe, Nikki Miller and Miranda Murphy. Suzy Haverstick is helping the girls with their proposed project.
“The idea is to build a permanent structure in Evergreen Park,” City Administrator Rick Childers told park board members during their April meeting. “But, permission first needs to be granted by the city.”
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 eight-feet high and the roof peak would be 13 feet off the ground.
“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 grant money would pay for the amphitheater, but the group also would solicit donations. All labor would be voluntary.
Friends for Change’s time line has the facility 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.
If approved, 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 St. Clair Board of Aldermen is scheduled to discuss the project during its May 6 meeting in city hall. Park board members applauded the group for coming up with the project as a way to help the community.
Girls from the organization gave park board members rough drawings of the amphitheater, a project sketch sheet and a projected preliminary budget. According to the group’s estimate, all the materials — including concrete, site preparation and excavation and roofing materials — would cost about $14,000.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also is involved with the Challenge and Change program.