Spring Creek Park proposed as site for new outdoor performance venue
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Great American Laughing Stock Company enters its 10th season in 2018 with renewed energy and focus. It will start by finding a home base for the nonprofit summer repertory theater company that hosts the annual Piknik Theatre Festival each summer.
Piknik Theatre has become known for its Shakespeare-inspired outdoor performances at the Yampa River Botanic Park. But recently, the festival has had difficulty in scheduling performances at the park due to weddings and other event, and sometimes audiences are unable to hear the actors clearly due to the noise of cars traveling along nearby U.S. Highway 40.
With these issues in mind, the idea for a new outdoor amphitheater emerged, and the theater company is eyeing Spring Creek Park as the location.
“This space is perfect for any artists who value the outdoor amenities the park offers — quiet, intense natural beauty, including a natural-flowing water feature, easy access to the center of town,” said Stuart Handloff, Piknik Theater artistic director. “There’s no reason the amphitheater won’t be used by non-performing groups too. The possibilities are rich with potential.”
At Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, Handloff will be requesting an endorsement for the outdoor amphitheater construction project in the city-owned Spring Creek Park. Discussion about the project will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.
“There’s simply no other outdoor location in Steamboat that has the amenities for performance that are available in Spring Creek Park,” Handloff said.
The amphitheater could be constructed on either the existing dog park area where the lower dam and reservoir were drained in 2000, with the dog park to be relocated to the upper pond area, or in the area to be created as a result of dam modification work at the upper reservoir.
Handloff said his vision of the new outdoor venue would be a 200- to 300-seat facility with a stage constructed of durable materials to minimize long-term maintenance requirements. The project would also include compostable toilets to avoid a public sewer line extension, solar power for small-scale electrical usage and an electric shuttle bus service for transportation to the nearby high school parking lots to avoid on-site parking requirements.
“I feel like I’m not swimming upstream but simply harnessing and focusing an energy in the community that’s always been here,” Handloff said.
The city is being asked to make a $300,000 contribution toward the project.
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