Montgomery Village Board members voiced unanimous support Monday evening, July 26, for a plan to construct a plaza and amphitheater in Montgomery Park in the village’s downtown.
Village Administrator Jeff Zoephel told the board that the amphitheater with a permanent stage would be built near the intersection of Mill and River streets and face northeast toward the Fox River, which borders the park on the east.
In addition to serving as the stage for entertainment during the summer Montgomery Fest celebrations, the amphitheater would provide a site for other concerts and events put on by the village and/or the Fox Valley Park District throughout the year. The park district owns and maintains the park.
The plaza would be along both sides of an existing walking path that extends northward in the park from Mill Street near River Street.
Zoephel said village staff members have discussed the possibility of monuments being placed in the plaza that honor veterans, first responders and educators.
Also as part of the project, Zoephel said improvements would be made to the riverbank, just north of the Mill Street bridge adjoining an historic turbine.
Zoephel said park district officials have expressed a willingness to partner with the village in constructing the improvements in the park.
He said the village could negotiate an agreement with the park district whereby the village would pay for the improvements and the park district would maintain them under terms of a long-term lease.
Zoephel estimated the cost for the project at between $400,000 and $500,000.
To finance the project, Zoephel said the village could use the proceeds from a $200,000 state grant secured for the village by state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, to pay for the plaza and a $10,000 grant from ComEd to pay for the shoreline stabilization improvements.
The balance of the funds for the project could come from the village’s development fund or from the village’s general fund reserve.
“Our reserve is currently in excess of the 25% [balance] we are required to have and we can take it out of that and still meet our reserve requirements,” Zoephel said.
Board members Steve Jungermann and Doug Marecek voiced support for the project, but both asked that the proposed amphitheater include a raised stage.
“People have to be able to see [the stage] from the back,” Marecek said.
Village President Matt Brolley said that Montgomery Park already is the site of multiple community events every year and there could be more. He said he believes the project would help the village attract more people to the downtown area.
With the board’s approval, Zoephel said he would contact the park district and work to develop more specific plans that he said he will bring back to the board for further consideration and action.
He suggested the village could work toward a goal of completing the project in time for next year’s Montgomery Fest, set for August.