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City engineer: Phase 1 of amphitheater going well

The Commercial Dispatch

In another three months or so, a new amphitheater in Columbus could be open for business. Sort of. 

Phase 1 of construction on the $4.8 million Terry Brown Amphitheater at the Columbus Riverwalk is expected to be completed by June 1, said Kevin Stafford of Neel-Schaffer Engineering, the city's engineering consulting firm. Stafford provided an update on that project, along with plans to extend the Riverwalk to Columbus Air Force Base, at Thursday's Exchange Club meeting at Lion Hills Center. 

"Phase 1 will put in all the infrastructure -- water, sewer, lighting, as well as the stage, ramps and fencing," Stafford said. "Phase 2 will put in fixed seating, concession and restroom and ticket booths, along with ramps and additional fencing." 

Stafford said work on Phase 2 will rely on state funding. 

The Legislature has provided funds from its bond package in each of the two previous years -- $2.25 million in 2015 and $1.1 million last year. Stafford said Phase 2 should cost approximately $1.5 million. 

"Once we finish Phase 1, the amphitheater could be used for some things, maybe the kinds of events we have had in the existing amphitheater -- free concerts with lawn-chair seating," Stafford said. "Obviously, that's not the vision we have for the amphitheater, but it could be an option short-term." 

When both phases are completed, the venue will have a capacity of roughly 3,500, a mix of fixed and lawn seating. 

Stafford said work on Phase 1 has gone well. 

"We really had a great winter for building, so there's a chance it could be finished before that June 1 deadline," he said. 

Like Phase 2 of the amphitheater, the Riverwalk extension is also awaiting funding, Stafford said. 

"The original idea was to extend the Riverwalk to the Lock and Dam," Stafford said. "But Columbus Air Force Base came to us and wanted to explore the possibility of extending it all the way to the base. 

"They had pedestrian safety issues, and they were looking for a way for their personnel to get off the road and exercise," he added. "So now, the plan is to take the 2.2 miles we already have and extend it past to Lock and Dam and tie it in to Dwayne Hayes (Recreation Area) and on up to the base. That's 16 miles total." 

Stafford said construction costs are $1 million per mile, which means the project will require about $14 million to complete. 

Unlike the existing 2.2-mile section of the Riverwalk, which is paved with concrete, Stafford said the remainder of the route could be a mixture of surfaces. 

"We're hearing from runners, especially, that the concrete is not the best surface to run on, so we're looking at other types of surfaces we could use," he said.


February 17, 2017 10:58:37 AM

Slim Smith -

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is

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