To The Editor: On January 14, 2020 I attended the Osage Beach Planning Commission Regular Meeting to support Rezoning Case 403 (Arapaho, LLC). I have no affiliation with Arapaho, LLC or the applicants. My purpose for attending the meeting is related to my firm’s strong support for the project. The proposed project is a 2000 seat amphitheater located adjacent to Backwater Jacks and situated between Beach Drive and Sunset Drive. Arapaho, LLC also owns Backwater Jack’s and other commercial entities.
The meeting was attended by enthusiastic supporters both for and against the project. Chairman Susan Ebling handled the proceedings in a professional manner; however, the meeting was virtually hijacked by a small group of very vocal residents who live in the vicinity and strongly oppose the project. That is their right. However, almost no time was allotted to the merits of the project as it relates to the positive economic impact it will have on the Lake Community. Not addressed were the benefits of the facility for expanded entertainment options in a resort community nor the applicant’s numerous other successful projects that have been completed in the Lake area which continue to have a strong ongoing positive economic impact. A pity these benefits and others were not considered.
To be sure, a successful project will certainly benefit the applicants. But the benefits will exceed far beyond to countless other local businesses. I have no specific financial projections for the project, but there would certainly be significant new revenue and some new jobs for the local community. As I understand it, the business plan involves attracting some major entertainment names to the Lake area which in turn will attract new visitors, most of which will generate revenue for other local merchants.
Numerous participants at the meeting expressed that they did not oppose an amphitheater, just not at this location. The classic “not in my backyard” argument. I understand such sentiment, but in this case, it may well be short sighted. The property is currently zoned C-1 (General Commercial) and C-1b (Commercial Lodging). The existing zoning would allow any number of commercial uses. However, according to the Osage Beach Comprehensive Plan, the recommended future land use is “moderate density residential”. According to the plan’s guidelines, this would allow as many as 200 new residential units on the property. While topography and other constraints would certainly lower that number, half that amount or even more seems feasible. Some would likely be second homes with limited use; however, a great many would be full-time residents. Imagine the significant impact such a residential community would have on the local infrastructure, traffic, noise, congestion, city water/sewer, police, fire, etc. These are the same issues mentioned by residents who object to the amphitheater project. So be careful what you wish for.
As part of their application, the applicants have agreed to limit use of the facility to just eight to twelve events per year. Such events are seldom longer than four hours or so in duration. For illustration purposes, if you double the number hours to include setup and tear down time, the local residents will feel the impact of the proposed facility for no more than eight hours a maximum of twelve times per year. This equates to less than 100 hours total in one year. Stated differently, the amphitheater would be idle almost 99 percent of the time. But how about that alternative residential community project? It would be putting strain on local resources 24/7/365. It is hard to imagine a facility that would create less total local impact than an amphitheater that operates barely one percent of the time.
And it is not like Osage Beach is thriving. A year over year review of the Osage Beach City Budget reveals stagnation and negative real revenue growth. Over the last year numerous businesses, within a mile of City Hall, have either closed their doors or will shortly. And these are not all small strip center boutique businesses with a normally higher turnover rate. This includes major names such as Wood’s Supermarket (the only supermarket on the West side), Ezard’s Ace Hardware (a business with a strong decades long legacy in the community), and Fastenal (a fast-growing multi-national company). The list goes on. For communities to continue to grow and prosper, they must accept creative destruction and welcome new ideas. The proposed amphitheater is one such new idea.
We strongly support this project for all the economic benefits it will bring to the community. We also feel it will expand the entertainment options in what is indisputably a vacation area. We trust that the applicant’s strong track record will lead to a successful completion. We urge other Osage Beach city residents and officials to support and promote this project.
Timothy P. Hand
TNT Solutions LLC