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Planning underway for new outdoor performance venue at Rusch Park

By Sara Beth Williams–
A pair of informational meetings will be held this month to get public input and unveil more details about plans for constructing a new outdoor performance venue at Rusch Park.

A flyer posted on Sunrise Recreation and Park District’s website invites the public to share their thoughts, questions, and concerns on the construction of a new bandshell to be located at Rusch Park during two different public meetings. One in-person meeting will be held on Saturday, Aug. 19 beginning at 10 a.m., in Room 1 at Rusch Park, and the second will be held virtually at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 24.

Interim District Administrator Wayne Edmundson said in an email to The Sentinel that Citrus Heights Community Marching Band (CHCMB) Executive Director Bill Cook originated the idea of building an amphitheater at the park in honor of his late wife, Kathy Cook, who founded the marching band in 2005. Kathy Cook passed away in August of 2021.

Edmundson said the park district has hired a firm to conduct a feasibility study and currently, the study is in its fourth phase, which involves community engagement. Following the public hearings, the last two phases include a cost estimate, and final feasibility report.

Flyers were mailed out to 900 homes surrounding Rusch Park, Edmundson said, and more were handed out during the Hot August Movie Night event that took place last weekend.

According to the marching band’s website, the first choice for the location of the performance venue is the west end of Rusch Park, near the Historic Rush Home and Garden. The park district will present two other possible locations to the community during the upcoming meetings.

In an interview with the Sentinel, Bill Cook said part of the agreement made with the parks district is to include resurfacing and repaving of the parking lot in front of the Rusch Home.

The band began raising money in August 2022 through online donations and community outreach. According to their website, the band estimates the overall cost could range from $300,000 to $500,000. An email from the CHCMB treasurer on Wednesday confirmed that $81,163 has been raised from private donations, and that the band is applying for multiple corporate sponsorships currently.

The band’s original goal was to raise money and begin construction in 2023. However, Edmundson said the SRPD board must first review and discuss feasibility study results before they can move on to construction.

An artist’s rendering shows the amphitheater with the name “Kathy Cook Amphitheater” prominently visible on the structure.

“Kathy was an amazing woman who loved everyone around her,” the marching band says on its website, adding that throughout the years leading the band, she “touched the lives of so many and left a legacy we are proud to continue.”

Members of the public can donate by purchasing a commemorative brick on the marching band’s website. Bill Cook confirmed that construction plans will utilize commemorative bricks in the design as part of walking paths that connect to the venue, and as part of the overall construction inside and outside.

The Citrus Heights Community Marching Band is a free, all-ages community marching band, and performs in the greater Sacramento region. The all-volunteer community band is supported through donations from local community members and businesses.

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