As shovels hit the dirt, a round of applause followed: The first step in the construction of the downtown amphitheater was made on Tuesday afternoon.
The $3.3 million amphitheater, known as The Railyard Park, will be located on South College Street across from the MKT train depot.
Mayor Kevin Strength told the crowd gathered at The Railyard Park that the project has already begun to unite the community.
“In all the time that I have been here, I have never seen the town come out for a project like this one here. It was a no-brainer for us. I rarely heard one strong word about it,” Strength said. “It is going to be a beautiful thing. We are going to have some events down here, and it’s going to tie into our trail right here. It is going to tie the east side into the west side.”
The original project was initially an undertaking by Leadership Waxahachie. It called for a stage with an area for seating and would require about $20,000. However, the updated design adds several more elements in addition to the amphitheater. These features include a park, a pavilion area, a playground, splash pad, and spaces for food trucks to park.
Project member Jim Phillips stated The Railyard Park would continue to build upon the great foundation that was already put in place by others.
“I am excited that another amenity is being added to the many great amenities here in Waxahachie. I think that it will provide another destination and provide families a wonderful activity center,” Phillips said. “I am just really excited for the citizens. It is going to be one of those things that we look back on 25 years from now and say, ‘Hey, I am really proud that we did that.’”
Funds for the project come from the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation ($2.3 million) and the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone ($1 million). Both the WCDC and the TIRZ fund projects that maintain or enhance the quality of for residents in the city. The project does not affect the city's general budget and is not funded by property taxes out of the general fund.
President of the WCDC, John Sanders, stated he feels the project will enhance what the city has to offer to residents and visitors.
“It ties our park system together, and it ties our trail system together. It is a jewel on the south end of the square,” Sanders said. “We were really excited about a project that benefited downtown. That is why we got so excited and got behind this project.”
Leadership Waxahachie member Ann Montgomery stated music has always been a part of her life and is proud the project will have a musical component in it.
“I have been involved with music since I was six years old. This was near and dear to my heart because of music, and I am still active with that,” Montgomery said. “It is going to be a musical park. It is going to have chimes, symbols, and drums so that kids can come and play.”