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Legislative Appropriation May Make Permanent Amphitheater Possible

The Mississippi legislature has appropriated money for a $175,000 grant to the City of New Albany for improvements in recreational facilities. State Representative Margaret Rogers said that the state budget item she proposed had passed both houses and gone to the governor for his signature,

City of New Albany Marketing Director Sean Johnson asked Rogers to seek the money. She did so and guided the bill through committees and the vote of approval by the legislature.

The bill provides:

That the money will be used by “the City of New Albany, Mississippi, in paying costs associated with (i) construction, development and enhancement of and upgrades and improvements to bicycle trails, (ii) repair and renovation of and upgrades to the city’s sportsplex and related facilities and/or (iii) construction and development of an outdoor amphitheater and related facilities.”

The idea for an amphitheater was presented by Sean Johnson at a city board meeting earlier this year. He told the board that the rental of a temporary stage and other items for events such as the Tallahatchie Riverfest costs the city roughly $12,000 for each event. Johnson also told the board that a permanent structure would allow the opportunity for increasing the number of events in the city. Although the board’s reaction was positive, at that time there was no money in the budget to pursue the idea.

The is the view from what is expected to be the stage location of the amphitheater.

The is the view from what is expected to be the stage location of the amphitheater.

Johnson told nanewsweb.com, “A few days after the board meeting, I asked Margaret Rogers if she could find us some money (the request was for $250,000, but it got cut down in committee) for an amphitheater and related park upgrades, and she told me she would see what she could do. She came through.”

The amendment to the appropriations bill (SB2906) was written to allow the money to be leveraged for other projects, as well, according to Johnson. While the intent of the request was for funding for an amphitheater, some of the money can be used as match money for upgrades to other recreational properties. Local meetings are in the works to discuss hard costs for the amphitheater and possibly a new restroom and public use area for the Park-Along-the River.

“We are very appreciative of the good work Margaret Rogers did to secure this funding,” said New Albany Mayor Tim Kent. “It allows another improvement to help advance our goal of creating the best quality of life in New Albany that can be found anywhere in Mississippi.

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