NEW ULM - The New Ulm Park and Recreation Commission decided Monday to go ahead with seeking options to renovate the terrace seating at German Park's amphitheater. The decision, which does not lock the City into any spending, simply lays out options for future action.
In the 1990s, the park underwent redesign and renovation as part of the Master Plan for German Park. The plan included building rows of terraces for seating for the amphitheater, but budget constraints resulted in them simply being carved out of the hillside ground and covered with grass. In the decades since the renovation, erosion has slumped the terraces enough to make them almost unusable for lawn chairs. Additionally, the terraces lack access for mobility impaired individuals.
The Friends of German Park, an independent volunteer group of residents dedicated to fundraising for park improvements, have made completing the terraces its main priority. The group plans to raise funds for nearly all of the project's cost, with a $25,000 donation already contributed by an anonymous source. The City is also likely to expect the group to raise most of the funds because its own budget constraints.
Illustration courtesy of Park and Recreation
Department feasibility report on German Park
This illustration shows terraced seating and landscaping for the German Park amphitheater.
Since the group's start in the 1990s, it has raised a combined total of over $750,000 for projects in the park.
However, the terrace project may prove a serious task for the Friends. Its basic plan has been estimated at $366,000 to complete. If the group takes up the additional options to the base plan, the cost could total more than $500,000.
The base plan revolves around installing rock or concrete retaining walls at the back of the seating area and at the vertical sections of the terraced seating. A central stairway with basic lighting would be built into the middle. A mobility impaired access ramp would be built from the German Street sidewalk down to the top of the seating. Drainage tiling would also be built to meet regulation and erosion issues.
Options beyond the base plan come with added costs. For the wall surfaces, the plan can have imprinted concrete that adds $21,250, Artstone precast walls or limestone block walls that add $31,875 or Quartzite block wall that adds $42,500.
For the horizontal ground, artificial turf can be added for $11,800, concrete can be added for $15,750 or either brick pavers or stamped concrete can be added for $22,000 to $24,000.
For the pergola shading structure at the top of the amphitheater, the structure can be upgraded to wood for $50,000 or adding umbrella structures for $37,500.
Finally, the other miscellaneous options include adding $20,000 for four pole-mounted lights around the amphitheater perimeter, $10,000 for stage lights, $5,000 for 10 more trees around the area and $600 to add 10 more shrubs.
Denny Warta said he is optimistic that Friends will be able to raise most of the funds. He pointed to the popularity of the park and the concerts held in the amphitheater as motivators for residents.
The plan will now go before the City Council for approval to explore options for pursuing the project. The final project and whether the City decides to contribute any funds to the park will depend on how fundraising progresses.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org