Mayor Jack Ford has ditched plans to pay an outside firm $100,000 to design a Promenade Park amphitheater, and hopes to have the work done by in-house landscape architects instead.
Mr. Ford's decision to reject all four design firms that responded to a February request for proposals leaves the amphitheater design in limbo.
However, a top assistant to the mayor said Mr. Ford is committed to the amphitheater concept, and has authorized $400,000 to carry out a necessary street re-routing project this fall.
Starting after Labor Day, construction will begin on reopening Madison Avenue the short distance from Summit Street to Water Street, said Bill Franklin, assistant chief operating officer.
The change will allow trucks, buses, and cars another way into COSI, the former Toledo Edison Steam Plant, and the KeyBank building, so that Water Street from Jefferson Avenue eventually can be shut down.
"We don't have the construction money for Promenade Park budgeted yet - there's obviously some pretty tough competing priorities - but we want to keep the project moving," Mr. Franklin said. "This is the first step toward the amphitheater project."
The cost of an amphitheater has been estimated at $2 million to $3 million, which would have to be funded by donations, the mayor has said.
A concept proposed by the 2002 Downtown Toledo Master Plan calls for an amphitheater stretching from Summit, through the former Federal
Building site, into Promenade Park. Such a plan would require eliminating Water Street and leveling a built-up embankment with shade trees along Water.
In February, the administration issued a request for proposals to design an open-air amphitheater on Promenade Park.
Four design firms responded by the March 18 deadline. Three of them priced their designs at $100,000, and one estimated the price at $99,786.
Carter & Burgess Inc. of Cleveland, the low bidder, was the favored contractor for the project, Mr. Franklin said, but the mayor decided not to spend the money.
"The mayor thought it was too much money and we have some talented people in-house," Mr. Franklin said. A lot of the information the consultant was going to generate would have had to have been produced first by the city, such as a survey of utilities in the park and on Water Street.
Peter Gozza, president of Downtown Toledo Inc., said he wants to know when the city is going to design an amphitheater.
"The only thing I can say is we look forward to the city completing the preconstruction design and engineering for the refined vision of the waterfront," Mr. Gozza said. "Then we put together the money to get the park built. Our goal is to get the park built and activate our waterfront."
The cost of the Madison Avenue extension would be $400,000, Mr. Franklin said. The money will come from $900,000 that was allocated to Promenade Park improvements in the 2003 capital improvements budget.
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