A rendering of the Gerry Frank Salem Rotary Amphitheater, slated to be built at Riverfront Park. (Courtesy of the Rotary Club of Salem)

The city of Salem on Monday started construction on the groundwork for the Gerry Frank Salem Rotary Amphitheater in Riverfront Park that’ll host movies, concerts and more.

The parking lot in front of Salem’s Riverfront Carousel will be closed Monday through Thursday for construction on 55 additional parking spaces. On Thursdays, the city is offering a golf cart shuttle service from the north parking lot to help people get to the carousel.

The construction marks the first phase of a two-part project, said Aaron Kimsey, engineering program manager with Salem’s public works department.

Kimsey said the city is doing side work, like utilities, parking and lighting for the project before the Rotary Club of Salem takes over with its signature project.

Salem engineering firm Emery and Sons Construction will grade the ground for the amphitheater and stage and create a new entry plaza at the southern end of the park.

The construction firm is also installing hookups for 15 food trucks for future events.

“The thought is we were trying to think ahead and make some amenities to encourage that type of business,” Kimsey said.

The $3.8 million groundwork project is expected to be complete in October and then the Rotary Club of Salem will bring in its contractor, Dalke Construction of Salem, in November to build the amphitheater.

The rotary club has been working on this project since November 2016 and anticipates at 2021 opening date.

In addition to the improvements near the future amphitheater, the city is also adding eight additional restrooms in the northern portion of the park at a cost of $846,690. 

SUPPORT ESSENTIAL REPORTING FOR SALEM - A subscription starts at $5 a month for around-the-clock access to stories and email alerts sent directly to you. Your support matters. Go HERE.

Have a story tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.