Pratt Leadership Class sees 10-year project reach completion with new band shell downtown

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Chase Galle and members of the J.A Knight Construction crew put together the pieces of an enclosed band shell on Thursday at Merchants Park, located at the corner of Fourth Street and Main in Pratt.

The final piece of a project started in 2011 by the Pratt Leadership Class of 2010-2011 is being put into place at Merchants Park in Pratt. Last week a band shell, under construction by J.A Knight and Sons, under the direction of Chase Galle rose from long-made blueprint plans into reality.

"It looks much bigger than we thought," said Carol Stull, a member of the 2010-2011 Pratt Leadership Class. "It is such a thrill to see this all finally coming to the finishing stage. What a project it has been."

Stull said she, and other members of that 20+ group, came up with a plan to create a special park in Pratt as part of the their leadership learning 10 years ago.

"It all started with the bricks on Main Street that the city was pulling up in that area," Stull said. "We wanted to incorporate those same bricks into something beautiful that would remind us where we came from, but propel us forward."

Stull said the Merchants Park at the corner of Fourth Street and Main in Pratt now sits on a lot that in 2010 was not a pretty site.

"It was just a gravel parking lot with one lone ceder tree," she said. "The Parrish Hotel behind it was falling apart and the whole area there was just an place that needed some attention."

According to Stull, members of the leadership group went into action by presenting their plans to create a park-area there to the Pratt City Commission. Once others heard of the idea, the support that came in was phenomenal, she said.

"People's Bank donated the land, the City of Pratt donated all the bricks needed, plus water and electrical work," she said. "Stanion Electric donated light poles, Smiley Concrete provided sand, and concrete, along with Concrete Enterprises. Other gifts came in from SCCF and Pratt Health Foundation. EBH donated their engineering planning and design time, and the Pratt Rotary Club, along with their Eagle Wings group cleaned and stacked more than 30,000 bricks (which weighed 8 pounds each) that went into the project. It was a great community effort."

Stull said that more than $67,900 in cash donations were received as the project moved forward paying for all parts of the park's construction, and everything was completed over the past 10 years except for the band shell.

"It was all part of the original design, and the pad for the band shell was laid in from the start," Stull said. "It is now the finishing touch on what has truly become a community project, launched from Pratt Leadership origins."

Extra money was recently donated by the NextEra Wind Farm to help finish the last piece of the Merchants Park plan, needed because the price of lumber jumped significantly since the concept was formed. This was the second donation received for the project by NextEra.

Stull said many of the original planners of the park from that 2010-2011 class had moved away, but she and eight others were planning to meet in September and paint the new band shell as soon as construction is complete. Colors chosen were light green and cream, with some possible brick red accents.

"It's all coming together," she said. "It makes me very happy to see that."

A new band shell is going up at Merchants Park, part of a grand plan initiated by the Pratt Leadership Class of 2010-2011 to help revitalize downtown. The Hotel Parrish in the background has also been given new life as a completely remodeled apartment complex and bakery shop in Pratt in the past 10 years.

The Merchants Park is already a well-known location for Saturday morning Farmers Markets, outdoors community and school music events, and is one of four locations in Pratt for literary book boxes.