Amphitheater project idles

Ambitious plans to overhaul the Christmas Hill Park amphitheater
are on hold while members of the local Rotary Club search for
funding and assemble a partnership with civic and government
organizations.
Gilroy – Ambitious plans to overhaul the Christmas Hill Park amphitheater are on hold while members of the local Rotary Club search for funding and assemble a partnership with civic and government organizations.

Rotary members are working with city officials and hope to work with the Garlic Festival Association and other groups to help raise money for the project, chosen to commemorate the Rotary’s 2005 centennial anniversary celebrated in February.

In addition to upgrading the railroad ties that form the grassy seating of the amphitheater, the Rotary Club plans to expand the stage and canopy, install a sound and light system and a changing area, and improve the snack shack.

“A few years ago it occurred to me while I was sitting at one of the performances, here we have this magnificent theater that’s fallen into disrepair,” said incoming Rotary president Jeff Orth. “It’s kind of embarrassing.”

Some Rotary members had hoped to begin renovations to the amphitheater in time for the Gilroy Garlic Festival at the end of July, but it appears Rotary members have a long road ahead.

Orth credited city officials with helping smooth a detailed planning process that includes searching for vandal-proof lighting, for instance, but said much work remained to be done.

He also said the project could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, a tough fundraising challenge at a time when many of the city’s perennial donors recently have been tapped for the Gilroy Arts and Culture Center, expected to open in 2008.

Unlike the arts center, however, the amphitheater project could benefit as much from donations of services as money, Orth said, who welcomed assistance from local contractors as well as financial donors.

“The Rotary has never seen this as a solo act,” Orth said.

Anyone interested in donating funds or services or getting involved should contact Orth at 842-2716.

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