City leaders, business representatives and Gering citizens gathered just north of the Gering Civic Center to dedicate the new Downtown Civic Plaza Tuesday afternoon.
Initially conceived four years ago, the project underwent a number of changes before the vision unfolded for today’s space, and City Parks Director Amy Seiler said at times it was easy to think they should just throw in the towel on the project. “As I look across this area and see how this place is transformed from a parking lot to a really special place, where people will be able to come together and celebrate, and learn and discuss, meditate and connect, and just sit and enjoy this environment,” said Seiler, visibly moved to tears, “My mind is brought to this great quote by an anonymous person that says ‘Let us no become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.'”
Mayor Tony Kaufman told the crowd the plaza is the type of space that means a lot to a community. “When we look at cultures around the world, plazas and civic spaces are the heart of the city,” said Kaufman. “They’re the source of economic resources, social gathering places, spaces people can be proud of. They’re safe to go with their families, and create a lot of opportunities for communities.”
Part of Tuesday’s ceremonies was the inclusion of a time capsule being sealed behind the large granite dedication plaque on building housing the public restroom, and which will be opened in 50 years.
Among the items included were a dedication ceremony invitation, concept drawings of the various versions of the plaza, plus items from the many city departments, a GHS renovation dedication booklet and a 100th anniversary coin and brochure from the Scotts Bluff National Monument.
Crissy Land was honored for her design and vision that brought forward the end product, and the plaza has also become one of the 105 locations across Nebraska that are now part of the statewide arboretum.
Downtown Revitalization Committee Chairman George Schlothauer noted the plaza takes it’s place as the latest addition to those projects making Gering special, such as the Civic Center and the Oregon Trial Ballpark. “The plaza represents a pride of place, and I think we can all be proud of Gering and the plaza we have developed,” said Schlothauer. “And pride of place, I can honestly say, I think we are definitely one of the best-kept secrets, and one of the best small towns in Nebraska.”