Get AMPed: A New Multi-Purpose Amphitheater is Coming to Downtown Milford

Construction on AMP in Central Park, a grassroots effort to build a multi-use outdoor amphitheater in Milford’s Central Park, might begin as early as next week, pending the outcome of construction bids that started at the beginning of the month. 
The AMP project got its start in early 2012 when the Rotary Club of Milford sought to identify a community project they would support. Village of Milford Parks & Recreation Commissioner Myles Davis submitted an idea and sketches for an outdoor amphitheater in Central Park. Soon after, the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce got on board with the plan. Central Park falls within the jurisdiction of the Milford Downtown Development Authority and the plans for the amphitheater happened to align with a master plan that had put together a few years prior. The DDA approached the Rotary and Chamber and said they wanted to partner up on the project but wanted to have the opportunity to revise the design and work on the integration of the design with the park and with downtown Milford.
John Grissim, a Milford resident and renowned landscape architect, worked on a new design concept that all three organizations loved, meeting the diverse needs of the community without disrupting the park’s natural setting. The site incorporates terraced seating and will accommodate about 2,000 people, while retaining 98 percent of the standing poplar trees that provide a natural canopy. The design also makes the historic Albert Kahn-designed Ford Power House and Pettibone Creek waterfall a visual emphasis for visitors, with Central Park and the Huron River providing the backdrop.
The DDA got involved in late 2012, and the three partner organizations began fundraising in March 2013. “A lot of people were pulled together really fast,” says Ann Barnette, Executive Director of the Milford Downtown Development Authority. “Everyone who visits the site and sees the design intuitively knows it’s the right design for the right location.” 
In a little over a year, they were able to raise the $500,000 needed to fund the construction of the amphitheater. The LaFontaine family is the presenting sponsor of the park and donated $155,000 to AMP, covering 50 percent of the cost of the amphitheater and stage and earning naming rights of the amphitheater. Another $193,000 was collected in private donations. Finally, three local companies – Janetti and Sons Excavating, Brien Services and B&M Electric Contracting Inc. – donated $70,000 woth of in-kind donations of contracting services.
Those in-kind contractors are already set to work on the project, so the last remaining piece of the puzzle, which will determine whether or not construction will begin this year, is whether or not there was an awardable construction bid. Part of the bid application required that the bidder be able to start work on July 21 and be done by September 30, before the ground starts to freeze. Construction will be completed in two phases, beginning with construction of the amphitheater and stage, followed by the development of permanent restroom facilities in the park. 
Smoke Street Barbecue and Huron Valley State Bank are among the many businesses and institutions that have made contributions to the ongoing campaign, and visitors will have the chance to contribute to AMP in Central Park during Milford Memories August 8-10.
Currently there is an ongoing summer concert series held in Central Park on Thursday nights that draws in crowds of about 1,000-1,500 people weekly. The amphitheater will enable a multitude of events to be held in the park spanning a wide range of interests. “I’m sure this is going to be a popular destination for other events,” Barnette says. “It’s going to be a great place just to be, to take a picnic there, have a great view of the waterfall and creek, as well as facilitating all kinds of events.”