Amphitheater Project on Track for May 2018 Completion

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The amphitheater and riverfront park should be ready for its first public event in May 2018, documents the Board of Control approved Thursday show.

The board approved an $830,000 contract with landscape architecture firm MKSK of Columbus to provide design and construction management services for the $9 million project.

Youngstown hired MKSK in the summer of 2015 for other work leading to the project, including development of a master plan for the amphitheater and riverfront park next to the Covelli Centre.

Now, with a design group fully committed and defined timelines, the project is more definite, Mayor John McNally said.

“This project is going to come to fruition. It’s going to be a great thing for the community,” he said. With the work also being done on the City Hall Annex building, that end of downtown in a year and a half “is going to be much cleaner than it is now, much greener, and its going to look great,” he added.

The contract approved Thursday would have MKSK complete the schematic design by March 15 and prepare the earthwork/utilities package for bid by April 1. Design development should be complete by May 30, construction documentation by Aug. 11 and bids for the work by Sept. 1. Contract administration would begin Sept. 15 and run through the projected May 1, 2018, completion date.

Last month, City Council authorized the Board of Control to negotiate the contract with MKSK.

“We are very excited that City Council and city officials continue to move this exciting project forward,” said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Management. “We truly believe this will be an extraordinary community asset and another true game changer in our downtown’s renaissance.”

JAC Management operates the city-owned Covelli Center. Ryan, who has long advocated an amphitheater to draw shows that prefer outdoor venues in the summer, has been working with the city on the project.

Youngstown officials will meet with MKSK next week to further refine the processes and timelines, McNally said. He expects interest in sponsorship opportunities – including naming rights for the amphitheater as well as the park itself – to intensify. Such discussions are already underway.

Last October, Gary Small, president and CEO of Home Savings Bank, acknowledged at a meeting of the Downtown Youngstown Partnership that his bank was in talks to be a “big participant” including a naming rights deal.

Officials will meet next week with another interested party, “another downtown business,” McNally said.

In financial projections outlined to City Council last year, Finance Director David Bozanich anticipated as much as $3 million could be realized from naming rights deals and other sponsorship opportunities.

Although Ryan has been working with the city and MKSK on the amphitheater and park – which has been expected to take care of operations advantages of being next to the Covelli Centre — neither Ryan nor his company have a formal relationship with the project.

“We’re using his promotional background and experience to try to help make this a good project,” McNally said.

Any new contract with JAC or an amendment to the existing one with the city to formalize its role would need to go before City Council. “It makes eminent sense for that to occur,” McNally said, “but that’ll be a little bit down the road.”

In other business, the board approved a change order that adds $51,045.62 to its contract with Marucci and Gaffney Excavating Co. for the Wick Avenue project. The addition brings the contract up to $4.15 million.

The charges stem from changes arising from utility conflicts related to the water line installation, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works. While engineers did “a pretty good job” at identifying where the utilities were, “invariably some things come up” and those utilities aren’t precisely where the drawings indicate they should be.

“It’s not unusual for this to happen in a downtown area,” Shasho said.

Whether a water line or an existing utility is adjusted is done case-by-case, he said.

Overall, the project is running about a month ahead of schedule, he reported.

NOTE: This story has been corrected to clarify that McNally stated that it would make “eminent sense” for Eric Ryan and JAC Management to have a formal role with the amphitheater project.

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