Village of Oswego officials joined with local state lawmakers and community partners Thursday afternoon, Oct. 15, at a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction for an outdoor amphitheater to be used as a community amenity for concerts, festivals and local performing arts groups on the village's far west side.
“Imagine the permanent stage, rolling lawns, weeping willows, green space for the community to gather for great events such as weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and one of my wife’s favorites – Shakespeare in the Park, school dances and national acts,” said Kevin Fialko, who donated the land for the venue. "There are great possibilities for this venue space. All we ask is that as a community we come together and support this.”
The venue will be located on three acres of land at the north end of Station Drive, near the village's former Park N Ride lot and proposed future Metra station.
The project is intended to activate and draw development interest to the Orchard Road corridor on the village's west side and has the support of Metra officials as a complementary use of the land adjacent to a planned station, according to village officials.
“The project fit the bill for what we were looking for,” Village President Troy Parlier said. “It was leveraging existing infrastructure and it was cost effective. It helped cement our future train stop with Metra. It creates economic activity along Orchard Road, which has long been dormant, and it creates a gathering place for our community to see the talent of our community.”
The venue will be constructed in two phases. The first phase includes a 40-foot by 60-foot bandshell with basic sound and lighting, plus seeded greenspace so that residents and visitors can bring lawn chairs and enjoy performances. The second phase will include semi-permanent seating, a playground, landscape enhancements, walkways, restrooms and concession stand, art installations, entryway pavers, and functional and aesthetic improvements to the bandshell.
The project’s first phase will cost $750,000 and is fully funded thanks to a year-end surplus in the village’s budget as well as $238,000 in capital grants from the State of Illinois, secured by State Reps. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, and Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego.
“This entire event today is about coming together, and really good government,” Batinick said. “I look at what’s been leveraged here -- you have the private sector, the bread and butter of a community that donate their time and their treasure to making the community a better place. You have a 20-year-old parking lot that’s leveraged with some donated land. You have a lot of volunteers, and it’s just all about coming together. This is such a warm moment in a year that hasn’t had enough warm moments.”
Several donors have already played a role in the design and construction of the site. In addition to Fialko’s land donation, Oswego-based Schoppe Design has donated $33,700 in in-kind landscape architecture services above their contract, and KCM Demolition and Excavation, owned by Village Trustee Terry Olson, as well as Dan’s Dirt and Gravel and OTT Trucking, have donated time and equipment to hauling topsoil to the site.
“It’s something positive to turn to in very uncertain and tenuous times,” local developer Angelo Kleronomos, who donated the project’s 1,400 cubic yards of soil, said. “Facilities of this type, you don’t put a dollar value on them and what they’re going to give you in return. They’re going to give you a quality of life in your community, and that’s what this is all about.”
Donation campaign underway
Construction of the first phase of the Oswego entertainment venue is fully funded, and Phase I of the venue is expected to open by the end of summer 2021. The Village has launched a donation campaign for the site’s Phase II amenities.
Companies interested in showcasing their products and services through in-kind donations are encouraged to visit www.oswegoil.org/venue.aspx, where a Request for Interest includes more information on needed materials, goods and services.
Residents and businesses seeking to leave a legacy in the community are also invited to contribute. Donations at any level will support the entertainment venue and the vision of bringing more opportunities for the performing arts to the Oswego community, and donor levels offer many options to promote a business, commemorate a special event, or remember a loved one on a donor wall and other opportunities. For more information on the site and how you can contribute, visit www.oswegoil.org/venue.aspx.