Vacant lots between 7th and 6th Streets west of Dumas Avenue.  The Dumas Downtown Association hopes this desolate area, left completely vacant by the burning last year of the old Star Theater/Oak Lanes Bowling Alley, can be the site of a new amphitheater, splash pad, and farmers market.

The Downtown Dumas Association (DDA) is in the process of applying for a grant from the U. S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) that could fund the construction of an amphitheater, splash pad, and farmers' market on the vacant lot between 7th and 6th Streets west of Dumas Avenue, according to DDA Executive Director Irene Delgado.  She spoke Monday at the regular meeting of the Dumas Economic Development Corporation (DEDC) Board of Directors.  

The amphitheater would have a stage, seating, and lights and provide a venue for live, outdoor performances, something that Dumas lacks now.  It would be constructed in the area once occupied by the old Star Theater/ Oak Lanes Bowling Alley that burned last year.

The splash pad would be located close by, and would offer activities and entertainment to children similar to the city-owned facility at McDade Park.  The downtown pad would be open to all and free of charge.  One of the requirements for the grant is that 80 percent of those served by the facilities constructed with grant funds be from families with a "low or moderate" income.

The farmers' market would be the third facility on the lot.  It would be a pavilion that would provide a shaded area where farmers and others could sell home-grown products.  Delgado said a committee would determine which goods.  And, she added, she was looking at the possibility of offering people the opportunity of operating vendor booths at the facility as well.

Delgado believes the project would give a boost to downtown redevelopment.  

"If we can make it (the vacant lot) into something, we believe it will attract more people to our downtown area," she said.

Delgado said in an interview Wednesday that the original idea for the three facilities came from DEDC Executive Director Michael Running and Dumas City Manager Arbie Taylor.  The two were exploring ways to put the land to constructive use, and they discussed the idea with her shortly after she took over the DDA earlier in the year.  When she recently heard about the grants, "I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get this done," she said.  

So far, she said, officials from the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission (PRPC) in both Amarillo and Austin who are assisting with the application have given her positive feedback about the project's prospects for approval.  The grants are designed to provide communities adversely affected by the COVID-19 health crisis with economic development assistance.  Part of the money funding the grants comes from the federal CARES Act that Congress passed and President Trump signed into law earlier in the year to help individuals, businesses, and communities hurt by the crisis.  She said officials told her that Dumas, having been especially hard hit, seemed to be well situated for approval.

Delgado told the board members Monday that the grant, if awarded, would pay 100 percent of the cost of the project.  Unlike many other government grants, it is not a matching grant.

On Tuesday, June 16, she is scheduled to discuss her plans with the Dumas City Commission during their regular meeting.

Delgado says the Dumas Cares program, a joint effort by the DDA and the DEDC, still has funds available to help local businesses hurt by the COVID crisis.  Businesses that have experienced periods of closure or in some way been adversely affected by the crisis can apply for a maximum grant of $3000 to use on any type of business expense.  She said she encourages any business that is "still hurting" to apply.  She also says the DDA and DEDC are still accepting donations for the program.  Dumas Cares began in the early days of the COVID crisis as business were closed and the nation went into lockdown.  The two organizations accepted donations -- and the DEDC added incentive money --  to create a fund out of which assistance grants could be awarded to local businesses suffering financial hardship from the health crisis.  Running said Monday that 19 businesses had applied so far.

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