The 2019 Crown Communities Awards
What is in this article?
- The 2019 Crown Communities Awards
- Orange County, Fla.: Competitive food drive
- Phoenix, Ariz.: Biogas-to-renewable natural gas plant
- Marietta, Ga.: Connected city network and app
- West Sacramento, Calif.: On-demand bus public transit
- Ottawa, Ka.: Downtown outdoor event space
- Ormond Beach, Fla.: Citizen engagement meeting series
Ottawa, Ka.: Downtown outdoor event space
Completed in August 2019, Ottawa, Kan.’s new downtown outdoor event space, Legacy Square, is impressive for a few reasons. Building it addressed multiple issues within the city. Funding it was a community-wide effort, and it’s administered by a mostly local public-private partnership. With planning starting in fall 2018, it came to fruition in record time.
Legacy Square accomplishes several objectives. Community meetings held in 2017 had established that residents wanted a local outdoor event space. Legacy Square’s location in downtown Ottawa addresses downtown revitalization by attracting people from outside the community and increasing consumer spending in the downtown area. Two state rail trails now intersect at Legacy Square, helping to challenge sedentary lifestyles while letting people enjoy the downtown area. Building the space also allowed for the fostering of community through extensive partnerships.
The public-private partnership that produced Legacy Square was a primarily local effort. The city government provided a vacant parking lot as the site and took charge of surfacing, curbs, gutters, utilities and infrastructure. The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce handles scheduling, programming and management of Legacy Square.
“The City of Ottawa’s participation and willingness to cooperate on this in a public-private initiative is really what made this successful,” says John Coen, president/CEO of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.
All major local employers either pledged cash funds or in-kind gifts. Local citizens made cash pledges ranging from $100 to $100,000. A local bank made a donation and agreed to finance the project to let construction begin immediately, with a nonprofit subset of the chamber owning the debt. Legacy Square’s price tag came out to $4.5 million.
“The citizens of this community were willing to make an investment here to create space that caused our community and our downtown especially, to be… a destination,” Coen says.
Legacy Square features 20,000 square feet of green space, covered canopies, public restrooms, benches and other amenities. A large pavilion with covered parking lies south of the greenspace. A few events were held in the venue in the fall and a concert and Cinco de Mayo festival are planned for the space in May. Since October 2018, seven new businesses have opened in downtown Ottawa.
Ultimately, the project is estimated to serve 25,000 people annually, with over 30 percent coming from outside the immediate area. The people who attend events at Legacy Square will also have immediate access to the city’s downtown and the two intersecting scenic rail trails.