Plans to build a 2,500-seat amphitheater in Lakewood’s Fort Steilacoom Park have been scrapped after park users and neighbors made it clear they didn’t like the idea.
But members of the Rotary Club of Lakewood haven’t let the negative response deter them from looking to build an outdoor performance area in the 340-acre regional park.
“Rotary remains committed to helping develop a gathering space on what might be considered an acre for the arts,” said club president Dave Coleman.
The club began fundraising last year and had pledged to raise $300,000 through its annual auction and dinner held in April.
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Coleman said it is still looking to create a project that “connects with the purposes and the future of the community and the park.”
A public meeting is set for Tuesday at Lakewood City Hall to discuss ideas.
“There won’t be any decisions made; it’s really just an information-gathering meeting,” said Mary Dodsworth, Lakewood’s director of Parks and Recreation and Community Service. “We want to have a conversation with the community and learn from them.”
A similar meeting was held a year ago in the park to discuss the possibility of building a large amphitheater near Waughop Lake.
That meeting didn’t go as planned. City staff spent most of the time dispelling rumors and trying to convince people that the city had approved no amphitheater plans.
This time there is no specific project to discuss, Dodsworth said.
“There hasn’t been market studies, there haven’t been costs assessments, because there hasn’t been anything to talk about yet,” she said.
Members of the city’s park advisory board simply want to hear from the public about whether people want some type of performing arts venue.
Public input would guide the size and location of the space, Dodsworth said. It could be as simple as a small stage, she said.
Rotary Club members believe a performance area is a missing link in one of the region’s largest swaths of public open space.
“An amphitheater is off the table. But a gathering space for the community in the park is still very much alive,” Coleman said.