We haven’t heard much about the Union Depot lately, be it its renovation or moving the Joplin Museum Complex to the Depot. Finally, last week, we received a small update in the form of a $48 million dollar proposal on establishing an arts center on North Main Street, which would incorporate the Union Depot (pretty much the same plan City Planner Marc Rohr announced earlier this year).
“The plan calls for a performing and visual arts center of about 150,000 square feet to be built at First and Main streets. It could house a 1,200-seat auditorium for touring shows, a 500-seat theater for Pro Musica concerts, the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. It could include spaces that could be used as classrooms, for convention and meetings, and for receptions.
An amphitheater could be built at the base of the hill north of the Union Depot, and the depot renovated for use as the Joplin Museum Complex, according to the North plan. Green space for use as a park or for outdoor events is proposed down the hill alongside Main Street, and another green space is envisioned between the depot and the amphitheater.”
The overall plan sounds both ambitious and a great improvement and addition to North Main Street. It’s a plan that would have been immediately accepted and lauded by the Joplin City Councils during the heydays of the City that Jack Built. The Joplin Globe, in an editorial, likes the idea and noted the extended helpful hand of the Walton Arts Center of Fayetteville, Arkansas, which has pledged assistance in booking shows and other events. The Walton Arts Center, located in downtown Fayetteville, is probably ten minutes away from the nearest interstate, and succeeded greatly in bringing rejuvenation to Dickson Street and surrounding area. Last we heard, the arts center current problem is not filling its seats, its having enough seats.
We support the plan as well. Joplin’s greatest moments occurred when the city took the bold steps of building a better future. It measured progress in the monuments of art and architecture that rose above its expanding streets, not by shying away or tearing down its former accomplishments. It’s wait to see if the funding is there to achieve the plan, but if it can be gathered, then by all means, full steam ahead.