Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Independence OKs $202,956 amphitheater

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDEPENDENCE - City council here has given the go-ahead to construct an amphitheater.

At its meeting Monday, Independence City Council voted 5 to 1 to award a bid for construction of the $202,956 project to B. L. Spille Construction Inc. of Erlanger.

The amphitheater, which could open as early as this fall, will be built in the city's 26-acre Memorial Park, near the Independence senior and community center and new firehouse.

It will be a venue for concerts, puppet shows and plays in a fast-growing community that's populated largely by young families.

"I'm excited about it,'' Independence Mayor Chris Moriconi said Tuesday. "Projects like this continue to make Independence a family-friendly place to live.''

Council Member Carol Franzen cast the sole vote against awarding the bid.

"Although I feel the amphitheater will be a great addition to the city, and I am aware that the construction costs are paid for, I feel it would not be responsible to build something that will cost the city money to operate year after year,'' Franzen said in a statement she read at the council meeting.

"There are more pressing issues the city must deal with first.''

She questioned whether Independence officials can justify ongoing costs like insurance and maintenance of an amphitheater when the city needs to hire more police and repair streets.

The construction project will be funded by a state grant and private donations.

No city tax dollars are being used.

The city had recently budgeted $256,000 for the amphitheater, which had been a campaign pledge of Moriconi's in last year's mayoral campaign.

"It's nice when a project comes in under budget,'' Moriconi said.


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