Manley Champions Verona Amphitheater Project
Deputy mayor envisions future venue as part of Hilltop Park.
Verona Deputy Mayor Bob Manley saw the future of Verona following a 2011 summer vacation with his brother to Colorado.
“My brother Ken and I were in Colorado in the summer of 2011 and we stopped for lunch and had some sandwiches overlooking this amphitheater,” said Manley.
He thought it would make a great addition to Verona so he drew up some rough sketches and presented it to Township Manager Joseph Martin and the council, who all responded positively to the idea, he said.
During 2012 meetings, the council has reviewed plans for new fields, walking trails and Manley’s amphitheater idea as part of the Hilltop Park development plan.
“We were very fortunate to get that property and the topography for that land is ideal,” said Manley. “Martin had Kinsey Associates do a rendering.”
The amphitheater would consist of 900 seats, but would only take up the size of a major league infield, he said.
Manley envisions it being used by different groups like environmental groups, art fairs, concerts and possibly even graduations.
Manley might also perform with his band Alotta Colada once the theatre is completed.
“It would make Verona a very unique destination for people,” said Manley. “Verona Township Engineer Jim Helb researched what it would cost and came up with a fairly detailed list of what the township would have to spend.
The town estimates the project will cost about $1.4 million, but the beauty of it, said Manley, is that no tax dollars will have to be used since they will be using the pilot dollars from Hilltop.
“A lot of people might argue that the money should be used for tax relief, which a lot of it will be,” he said. “But anytime you can do a project of this magnitude it’s going to make your town so unique and a hub.”
“It may not be tax relief, but it will increase the property value,” he added. “You don't get that opportunity very much at all.”
The athletic fields are the town's main priority right now, said Manley, and he wants to see those finished before shifting focus to the amphitheater.
“We can start in the middle of late spring and the fields are an 18-month process,” he said. “Sometime after, or while the fields are under construction we will begin to discuss the amphitheater or tie it into the project.”
According to Helb, doing the projects simultaneously could save the town between 20 and 30 percent.
“This has been a dream of mine for over a year,” said Manley. “But I don't want it to be the fly in the ointment.”