Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Independence ready to open amphitheater

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDEPENDENCE - This city will show off its new amphitheater later this month with a free concert and fireworks display.

Ridge Runner, a Tristate country band, will play at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the public amphitheater now under construction in the city's 26-acre Memorial Park. A fireworks display will follow the free concert and ribbon cutting.

What: "Celestial Party in the Park,'' grand opening of new city of Independence amphitheater

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 27

Where: 202 Jack Woods Parkway, off Delaware Crossing, which runs off Ky. 17

Features: Grand opening includes a ribbon cutting, free concert by the country band Ridge Runner and a fireworks display from the nearby city football field.

Sponsor: Celestial Building Corp. in Kenton County

Information: (859) 356-6264

"We're going to have an end-of-summer bash with the fireworks display that got canceled on the Fourth of July," Mayor Chris Moriconi said.

In Northern Kentucky only Covington has an amphitheater - in Devou Park.

From 1990 to 2000, Independence's population grew by 43 percent, as longtime farms were replaced by subdivisions, Moriconi said. This year, the city is on pace to build 342 single-family homes, said Kevin Barbian, Independence building inspector. The city of 15,000 has 17 subdivisions under construction.

Much of that growth is from young families in their 30s with children, the mayor said.

"Independence has a wide variety of affordable housing and a lot of good schools," Moriconi said. "It's a suburban community, but it's got that country feel to it, and it's close to everything. You're not far from downtown or the interstate."

First proposed eight years ago, the $202,956 amphitheater is being built with a state grant and about $80,000 from foundations and private donations, said Nia Brake, the city's parks and recreation director. No city tax dollars were used.

The amphitheater will host its first performance just 20 months after the city opened the nearby Independence Senior Citizens and Community Center. More than 400 seniors 55 to 90 have purchased memberships, said Joan Bowling, the center's executive director.

By next May, Independence also plans to open a 25,000-square-foot municipal complex that will put the city's police department and administrative offices under one roof, Moriconi said.

The new $3.8 million municipal center at 5409 Madison Pike will give the police department more than six times the space it currently leases in the Kenton County Courthouse.


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