Project 2020 was more than 10 years in the making, but the time and effort paid off Wednesday afternoon when the Fountain City Amphitheater at Moore Park in Bryan was officially dedicated.
Project 2020 is a giving circle affiliated with the Bryan Area Foundation, collecting money slowly over the course of around a decade before the funds matured and the amphitheater was constructed.
Its dedication was Wednesday.
“We celebrate the ability of private citizens, a non-profit like the Bryan Area Foundation and government entities like the city and the state who have also joined in this project,” Mike Shaffer, Project 2020 implementation chair, said in kicking off the 20-minute dedication ceremony. “We’re pleased that they saw such a value in the vision we had and were able to share with us to make this happen.”
The project is a “shining example” of how small town connections can make big things happen, he added.
Another way to put it would be, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That saying will be engraved upon a plaque that will be installed at the amphitheater at a later date.
Shaffer said the idea for Project 2020 dates back around 15 years.
At the time, a capital campaign for St. Patrick Catholic Church was winding down and featured a similar idea with families at the church making regular donations.
Former Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers President and CEO Phil Ennen brought up the idea of doing something similar community-wide.
“I said, ‘Phil, that was a great idea and I think we can make it happen,’” Shaffer said. “To Phil’s credit, he took it and ran with it.”
Ennen took the idea around the community and a foundation and committee were set up around 2009.
The Bryan Area Foundation collaborated, Amy Miller, BAF president, said.
“We, obviously, hosted, so we manage the fund for them and then we were also contributors,” she said.
In 2018, the committee started receiving ideas from the community about what potential projects to spend the money on. Shaffer said around 30 projects were proposed, which were “whittled down” to the amphitheater.
Pam Bard Steel, a committee member of Project 2020, said the amphitheater idea was selected because the community supports the arts.
“This community loves to help with that and this was just a great venue,” she said. “It gave us something that can be done outside, it opened up so many different opportunities. Being able to play here in the park, it just added to the charm of this area.”
The amphitheater was constructed this year at a cost of $417,000. Along with funding from major donors and the community, the project received a $150,000 state grant and funding assistance from the Bryan Area Foundation.
The project is not quite finished yet, with interactive fountains set to be installed on a small site just east of the stage next year. Shaffer said the committee expects to launch a separate fundraising campaign for the fountains next year.
Miller called the fountains “a wonderful addition” and said construction will start in the spring, though no date is set.
“We have some renderings and things and bids that are out,” she said. “We’ll be finalizing that in the coming months and getting that all contracted.”
The dedication was Wednesday afternoon and Shaffer took the opportunity to officially donate the facility to the city, which was accepted by Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade.
“On behalf of the City of Bryan, Bryan Parks and Rec Department, Bryan City Council and Bryan Board of Public Affairs, we appreciate and thank every member of Project 2020, Bryan Area Foundation, the state of Ohio and everyone who worked so hard,” the mayor said. “We love the facility. We will use it well ... So thank you.”
State Sen. Rob McColley and State Rep. Jim Hoops both gave certificates of recognition from their respective offices to Shaffer and the facility.
McColley said seeing people in a community coming together to complete a project is one of the best parts of his job.
“This is certainly one shining example of that that’s happened with the leadership of a whole group of people who’ve been able to come together for the future of Bryan, Ohio,” he said.
Hoops felt similarly.
“These are the kind of things that happen when people come together as a community, as a foundation, work together to accomplish something like this in a year that has been really crazy,” he said. “I’m looking forward to coming to some events.”
Miller said she was “thrilled” with how it turned out. “With all the unique challenges in 2020, this project and concert are a major bright spot for our community,” she said.
She was especially happy with how the amphitheater is situated within the park.
“As you look out there’s a ton of space for seating,” Miller said. “I think the sound is going to go right into the park, so it’s not pointed toward anyone’s home. It’s really resting in the perfect location.”
The first concert at the amphitheater will be days after its dedication, on Saturday.
“When the amphitheater and interactive fountains were selected as the Project 2020 initiative, we had no idea how timely and needed this venue would be. With the onset of COVID-19, an outdoor event space that allows for social distancing is even more valuable,” Shaffer said.
The free event will feature musician Matt Hammitt, who will perform starting at 7 p.m. Saturday. Social distancing protocols will be followed.
Bard Steel said the concert will be sponsored by Bard Manufacturing.
“It came out because my husband, Bill, and I were saying, ‘What can we do for the community?’ This has been a rough haul for our entire nation,” she said. “We said, ‘What can we do that would be a bright spot?’”
They knew Hammitt was from Toledo, so they reached out to his agent to come play the first concert.
Hammitt will bring three musicians with him for an hour- to an hour-and-15-minute concert.
“It’s going to be a wonderful night for song and worship,” Bard Steel said.
Kora Brew House & Wine Bar will be selling hot chocolate and coffee with the proceeds going to Bryan Municipal Utilities’ Good Neighbors Utility fund.
The amphitheater is located next to Imagination Station in Moore Park. Parking is available throughout the park including the Imagination Station parking lot, the Moore Pool parking lot, and the Presbyterian church parking lot.
BAF, Bard Steel added, would be there with glow sticks and other items for the children.
“It’s going to be a little chilly,” she said. “So, please bring your lawn chair, a blanket and dress really warm. You’ll have a great time.”