SHELBY – Downtown Shelby has a new entertainment option with the official opening of a new amphitheater space.
The first evening of Shelby Bicycle Days brought with it a ribbon cutting for the new amphitheater in the heart of the festival. Shelby Mayor Steve Schag said he hopes the space will become one of the crown jewels of the area.
“The completion of this amphitheater is a real win for the city of Shelby,” he said. “It will help pave the way for a revitalized downtown district of which we all can be proud.”
The amphitheater was installed at the park's existing 50-foot diameter concrete circle. A 40-foot portable stage will be included in the future, all complying with regulations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Architect Dan Seckel of The Seckel Group created the design for the amphitheater, and Finnegan Construction brought Seckel and the Park Board’s vision to life.
The amphitheater is part of an innovative solution to a 100-year flooding problem in Shelby. Development in downtown Shelby has to be creative due to the Black Fork River splitting the city, placing downtown squarely in the floodplain.
“On the very place where we stand, homes stood that were ravaged by the floodwaters in 2007,” Schag said. “With the assistance of Ohio EMA and FEMA, the city of Shelby was successful in obtaining mitigation grants to purchase the damaged homes, thus allowing those property owners to move out of the floodplain and start their lives over again.”
Plans were drawn and grants were obtained to create what eventually became the Black Fork Commons park in the heart of downtown.
“In a case study by FEMA, this park was recognized as a best practice for mitigated lands,” Schag said. “FEMA said the city of Shelby’s efforts should be commended and should be a vision for other communities across the country experiencing reoccurring disasters.”
According to Dave Keinath, a nine-year veteran of the Shelby Park Board, construction of the amphitheater cost approximately $174,400 and is entirely paid for through outside sources, including a $115,000 grant from the Richland County Foundation and a significant contribution from the late Lesli Barkdull Neal.
The new structure is part of the second phase of the development of the Black Fork Commons. The first phase of the park project was completed in 2015.
The city of Shelby and the Park Board originally broke ground on the three-acre area between West Main and Black Fork Street in August 2014. The first phase of the project was completed in 2015 and included a town center loop and various trails and walkways through the new green space.
The third phase of construction will include heated bathrooms downtown, a project estimated to cost approximately $165,000.
“This amphitheater is a key component in the continuing enhancement efforts of the Black Fork Commons along the Main Street corridor,” Schag said. “With the future addition of nearby ADA restrooms, this venue will surely give the community a beautiful place to gather for years – nay, decades – to come.”