Finkbeiner and Others Object to Possibility of Downtown Amphitheater

Pete Culp addresses his downtown amphitheater concerns

The Truth Staff

Over the past several weeks, there has been rampant speculation that the City of Toledo is considering approving the construction of a amphitheater in downtown Toledo on the site currently occupied by a parking lot across from the Valentine Theatre and Georgio’s Restaurant.

An Saturday, August 19, former mayor Carty Finkbeiner and several others held a press conference in front of the Valentine to express their collective dismay at such a prospect. That prospect, they noted, goes against the concept of a carefully considered master plan for the city and would wreak havoc on businesses such as Georgio’s and the historic entertainment center, the Valentine’s Theatre.

“This is a risk we shouldn’t take,” said Michael Young, former city planner who flew in from San Diego to add his voice to the protest. “There’s been no call for an amphitheater downtown, no clamoring masses – we also have other amphitheaters near downtown. This is the reason we go through a master planning process.”

The parking lot in question is bordered by Admas, Superior, Jackson and Huron Streets. It serves the patrons of the Valentine and Georgio’s on a regular basis, along with city employees in One Government Center.

Pete Culp, a former member oof the City Plan Commission, also spoke out about the idea of spending money on such a facility.

“There are other types of needs more important than another amphitheater, such as housing, assisting minority businesses,” said Culp.

The issue of a downtown amphitheater is the brainchild of Hunter Brucks, a concert promoter, who had advanced the idea of an amphitheater in Waterville. When that proposal fell apart, Brucks turned his attention to downtown Toledo.

Last week, the Lucas County board of commissioners agreed to spend $35,000 with ConnecToledo to perform a feasibility study on locating an amphitheater in downtown Toledo. The City of Toledo is expected to contribute $9,500. The study is expected to be completed in 10-12 weeks, according to Commissioner Pete Gerken.

Those at the press conference on Saturday took issue with the idea that money had been spent on such a study without being part of a master plan. “The Plan Commission would never have approved this when I was on the board,” said Culp.

Along with the concern for the commercial enterprises that would be negatively impacted by such a structure, Saturday’s group also expressed concern for downtown residents would be inconvenienced by the noise created.

“An amphitheater with sound bouncing off concrete is disruptive to residents,” said Theresa M. Gabriel, a former city official who held a number of positions during her tenure. “We have a lot of space already underutilized that we could spend our money on – be it federal, city or grants – in helping our community.”

As the press conference was being held, the group was informed that Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz had supposedly downplayed the idea of such a structure at the suggested location across from the Valentine.

“The mayor has not said that publicly, on the record,” said Finkbeiner. “I won’t rest, nor will these folks, and the Valentine Theatre’s board of directors should not rest until he does.”

Finkbeiner went on to offer his opinion, shared by the rest of the group, that the best place to build an amphitheater is “on the water.”

Citing the advantages of the scenic views and the access to watercraft, Finkbeiner said that “the best amphitheaters in the world are on the water.”