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After 82 years, the Harmon Park Sonotorium will get its face-lift
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After 82 years, the Harmon Park Sonotorium will get its face-lift

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Built in 1938, the Sonotorium at Harmon Park is due after 38 years for a major restoration and upgrade. Money now is available to add a permanent roof over the stage, upgrade sound and lighting systems, add ADA accessibility and light the south end of Harmon Park.

KEARNEY — A group led by Kearney High School band director Nathan LeFeber has raised $590,000, and, coupled with city sales tax revenue and coronaviris stimulus funds, it appears the money now is available to restore and enhance the Sonotorium at Harmon Park.

Approval of the plans and specifications for the project is on the Kearney City Council agenda for Tuesday. As part of the meeting’s consent agenda, the Sonotorium’s approval is considered noncontroversial so it can be voted on without discussion and is virtually ensured to pass.

In 2019 when LeFeber described his vision for the Sonotorium the council’s reaction was supportive and positive.

“Seeing what you’re doing is awesome,” Mayor Stan Clouse said. He predicted fundraising would be a success.

Built in 1938, the concrete structure at Harmon Park in central Kearney has a stage that’s used for summer concerts and other performances.

LeFeber’s vision for the Sonotorium included upgraded lighting, sound system and backstage rooms. Park and Recreation Director Scott Hayden said that the facility also could use ADA accessibility, facade restoration, power/electrical upgrades, improved sound system and a permanent roof over the stage. He also recommends lighting the south end of Harmon Park.

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“This is a project that has been on the city’s capital improvement program (CIP) list, so staff welcomed the input,” Hayden said in a memo to the council in 2019.

“The Sonotorium is uniquely Kearney,” LeFeber told the council when he asked it approve the Sonotorium effort.

For the past two years the Sonotorium committee and city parks staff have worked together on fundraising and plans for the restoration.

Hayden said this week in a memo to the council that in addition to the $590,000 LeFeber’s committee has raised, the city has committed $150,000 of CARES Act stimulus funding and $310,000 of city sales tax funding.

Wilkens Architecture Design Planning LLC was hired for the design services.

With the council’s formal approval Tuesday, the city will have the plans and specifications needed to put the Sonotorium restoration and enhancement out for bids. According to Hayden’s memo, the bid opening date will be 2 p.m. Nov. 9.

Tuesday’s meeting is open to the public and begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.


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