SMITHFIELD – After nearly three years of discussions, Smithfield City Council has awarded a contract for the refurbishment of the River Neuse Amphitheatre.
The council awarded a design-build contract to Balfour Beatty Construction LLC for design services and the renovation and construction of the new amphitheater. Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Gary Johnson said city staff, including the parks and recreation department, planning and city engineer, felt the design process- construction was the best option. As part of the design-build process, the total budget is set in advance and the project is designed to be completed for that amount. Designers and contractors are selected on time and work together, Johnson explained.
The company has a lot of experience with projects in the region. In 2020, Balfour Beatty Construction completed Town of Clayton Harmony Park in 8 months at a cost of $1.5 million. They are currently working on the City of Clayton City Park which is scheduled for completion in June 2022 at a cost of $6.5 million.
The City of Smithfield will pay for construction from funds awarded through a SCIFD grant from the State of North Carolina. The scholarship was $989,000. The total cost of the project is $989,500.
The structure was built in 1987 and remains damp and has been difficult to maintain due to ongoing drainage issues. Flooding also damaged the stage floor, roof and electrical components.
In October 2019, when City Council first discussed spending over $1 million to renovate the amphitheater, (former) Councilman Emery Ashley said it had flooded 10 times in 5 years and no one could build a house on the property.
During the same meeting three years ago, Councilman Travis Scott said, “It’s a great idea, but the wrong place. If we’re going to invest that money, we have to have it in an area that’s substantially safe and it’s not substantially safe.
At their May 2022 meeting, the council voted 7 to 0 to renovate the amphitheater in the same location. The stage area will be raised to help address flooding issues.