JACKSON TWP.  Township officials are in the planning stage for renovating North Park which will include the long-held idea of building an amphitheater. With the news last year of receiving a grant from the state of Ohio for $1 million, the dream is quickly becoming a reality.

An assessment of North Park has been completed and plans call for the amphitheater to be located just inside the entrance off of Fulton Road.

Part of the plan includes a building for a new Jackson Township Branch Library (the old building has been demolished). It also includes moving the basketball and tennis courts to an area currently used as soccer fields in order to make room for more parking next to the amphitheater.

The amphitheater itself could have a 70-foot by 50-foot covered stage area with a loading dock in the rear and changing areas in the back. It’s being designed with built-in seating for 600 and lawn seating for up to 1,500 people. There’s also plans for a concessions plaza, an amphitheater plaza and restrooms included in the design. 

"There will be space for people to bring blankets and chairs to watch live music events, plays or the Movie in the Park which will be moved to the amphitheater," said township Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez. "Plus, if the library builds in the location designated on the rendering, they will be able to use the amphitheater for any of their events such as children’s story time."

According to a rendering, a new library building will be located on the corner of the park entrance and Fulton Road. 

"We’ve taken many things into consideration with the plan including building the amphitheater so it will face the high school in order to reduce the noise for surrounding homeowners," Gonzalez said.

New parking areas will be built between the amphitheater and the Safety Center so the parking can also be used for events held at the Safety Center. An underground tunnel between North Park and the Jackson Local High School is also part of the park’s renovation plan.

Gonzalez said building the amphitheater will provide additional ways for residents to use North Park such as attending live music events, Jackson High School band performances, graduation parties, weddings, Pro Football Hall of Fame events, lectures, outdoor educational seminars, community fundraisers and more.

Some of the park programming projected for the amphitheater includes magic shows, gardening programs, dances, Holiday in the Park with an appearance by Santa Claus and the annual Easter Egg Hunt with special guest, the Easter Bunny.

"State Representative Kirk Schuring helped us get the grant last year," Gonzalez said. "The current design plan would place the amphitheater in the center of a multi-million-dollar park system that host tens of thousands of visitors of all ages. The events in North Park will only continue to grow with the addition of the amphitheater and the renovation of North Park."