Buda approves amphitheater for City Park

The process of developing a proposed amphitheater in Buda City Park marched forward Tuesday

While no official vote was taken, the Buda City Council directed Design Workshop, the group tasked with designing the amphitheater, to begin with a base $550,000 plan for the project, with city leaders possibility adding on additional alternatives in the future.

Claire Hempel, principal with Design Workshop, said the proposed amphitheater, located at the northwest edge of City Park, is being looked at as an event park with a capacity of 24,000 people. Hempel said the design of the amphitheater, which is bell-shaped, is planned to project sound to the railroad tracks, and not into neighborhoods.

The amphitheater is slated to also have a 1,200 square-foot stage that could house bands, orchestras and choirs.

Lisa Leal-Tate, architect associate with Carter Design Associates, said the stage is “good size,” but the city would have to discuss with specific acts if it is big enough to meet requirements.

Donna Carter, principal of Carter Design, said the idea of the amphitheater started when the city was asked to house a traveling show in City Park.

Carter said the “guts” of the amphitheater are based on work they have done in the past, which have dealt with enclosed spaces. The team also envisioned a structure that could possibly hold necessary rigging and utilities needed for big music acts.

Designers also envisioned a large enough space that could cater to flag football, the Buda Wiener Dog Races and other events.

Parks and Recreation Director Greg Olmer said construction documents are 50 percent complete. Olmer said the design team expects construction documents to be 100 percent by April or May.

Buda’s design team also included two additional options for the amphitheater, which, if implemented, would expand the full cost to $750,000.

Evan Ture, Buda City Council member Place 6, said seeing the possible $750,000 price tag is “a difficulty.” Ture said the city has always been able to find ways to reduce cost on parks.

True also proposed the city obtain a sound engineer to assist with the amphitheater’s development.

“We have to get this right. This is such a keystone of the park and will change what type of events we have vastly,” Ture said.

Buda Mayor George Haehn said he wanted to make sure the amphitheater was done right the first time, as it was going to be the “core of the park.”

Lee Urbanovsky, Buda City Council member Place 1, advocated for approaching the project incrementally, as opposed to building it all at once.

Funding the project has not been decided at this time. The amphitheater was included in Proposition 5 of the city’s $55 million bond package.

However, the city’s purchase of the now named Garison Park in 2016 reduced funding for parks improvements in Prop 5, said Chance Sparks, Buda assistant city manager. To include the amphitheater in the Prop 5 budget could impact the city’s contingency costs for other projects in the Proposition.

Instead, the city is seeking alternative ways to pay for it. One possibility is obtaining sponsorships for the amphitheater. Sparks said the project is suited for that form of public, private relationship.

“I think we did the right thing in doing the incremental bill, but, of course, I would love to have it done all at once and not have to worry about it,” Haehn said. “It comes down to how much contingency we have left.”

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