GERING — The public is invited to downtown Gering on Tuesday as the recently completed Gering Civic Plaza will be dedicated and officially unveiled for use.
A ribbon cutting ceremony and time capsule burial starts at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 11th and N streets, a block west of the downtown area.
“All the work comes to a completion on Tuesday as we have a grand celebration to officially dedicate the plaza,” Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Visitors Bureau, said. “This is the people’s plaza and we encourage residents to have this be the first of many times they take advantage of all the activities we have planned.”
Niedan-Streeks said that since the plaza was first envisioned, the city’s goal was to program the space with a diversity of activities and programs year-round. That could include music events, food events, yoga in the plaza, special celebrations and a lot more.
“Residents will also be able to use the plaza for private events like weddings and reunions,” Niedan-Streeks said. “Whatever the event, the sky’s the limit in a beautiful and unique setting.”
After the dedication, some final details still need to be completed before winter, such as additional mulch around the landscaping and finishing the irrigation system.
“Some of the first official events in the plaza will be centered on the Christmas parade, Santa’s Village and other downtown holiday celebrations,” Niedan-Streeks said. “More details on those will be made public soon.”
Finishing touches will continue next spring as the stage area is completed, fire pits will be placed, along with benches, seating areas and a water feature. And the Gering Farmers Market will return in 2020 under the canopy on the north end of the plaza.
The Gering Civic Plaza is now a reality, but the idea for a central gathering space in downtown Gering has been in development for the past six years.
In 2013, the city was awarded $350,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for downtown improvements. Some of the projects included improved handicap access in the downtown area and refurbishing the facades on several downtown buildings.
The other project the Gering Downtown Revitalization Committee decided to take on was a gathering area, a public plaza.
It took until 2019 to develop a budget, get the property ready and create a design. Last March, construction crews started with a 185-day timeline to complete the project before the state funding deadline expired.
“It ended up as a co-venture between us and the city,” retired Gering dentist George H. Schlothauer, who headed up the Gering Downtown Revitalization Committee when the state funding was awarded, said. “It was a long process, but we’re extremely proud of what was put together.”
He congratulated Gering Parks Director Amy Seiler for her recent landscape design on the plaza and also Community Forester Chrissy Land for her original plaza design that was just what the committee had envisioned years ago.
Schlothauer was also thankful to the numerous civic organizations that helped make the plaza a reality, from Scottsbluff-Gering Rotary to the NEXT Young Professionals group.
“This will be a great gathering place for the public and they’ll be able to have a wide variety of events there,” he said.
Dedication of the Gering Civic Plaza will be on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend and see what years of dedication were able to accomplish.