The Brighton Downtown Development Authority has politely declined an offer by a prominent local family for a sizable donation toward the $750,000 Mill Pond band shell and amphitheater project.

The family, which requested to remain anonymous, had offered the city $100,000 toward the project spread out over five years. The city council approved the final site plan for the project at its meeting last Thursday. The project had undergone several changes since first being proposed several years ago, and the public’s main concern was over the destruction of four of six shade trees behind the current gazebo. Many residents felt the trees provide valuable shade, particularly on hot sunny summer afternoons and evenings for events such as the weekly summertime Kiwanis gazebo concerts.

A letter of concern with over 500 signatures from those opposing removal of the trees was presented to the city asking that the trees remain. But in the end, even with modifications, it was felt that four of the six shade trees would have to go. Citizens were also concerned about the amount of heat the planned concrete amphitheater seats and floors would reflect toward the audience, as opposed to the current grass and soil, which absorb the heat. There were also concerns about losing the casual, small-town atmosphere of the current amphitheater, as opposed to the more formal concrete seats and flooring.

As a result of the controversy, the DDA has told the donor that it might be better to donate toward a different future project in the community, and staff is working to come up with viable ideas for such an endeavor. City Manager Nate Geinzer says as a result, 100% of the funds for the Mill Pond project will be coming from the DDA. Geinzer said the bidding process on the bandshell and amphitheater project will begin right after the first of the year, with construction to start in early spring and completion in time for the Smokin’ Jazz & Barbecue Blues Festival next September 8th and 9th. (TT)