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  • Writer's pictureTonja Brown

Welcome to Amur Plaza

The fencing is about to come down around the new area in Railside—soon to be known as Amur Plaza. Mark your calendar for June 2 at 5pm to celebrate with a ribbon cutting followed immediately by an early concert. This is also the date that kicks off the free HEAR Grand Island summer concert series, with that line up of bands beginning at 7pm.

This little oasis of green space with a permanent stage will bring a whole new vibe to HEAR Grand Island. The area will also come to life throughout the year as other groups organize events, and as Railside visitors and workers enjoy a little rest and relaxation.

You will also notice two new permanent public restrooms, both ADA compliant and complete with a baby changing station. This convenient amenity will be appreciated by many as they visit Railside and Amur Plaza. For events with larger audiences, there will still be access to traditional port-a-potties.

All of this has been made possible through a public-private partnership. The primary funders are Amur Equipment Finance and Grow Grand Island. Others contributing funds include The Wolbach Foundation, Greater Grand Island Community Foundation, and supporters of HEAR Grand Island. Those providing In-kind donations and services include Empire Development and Railside Business Improvement District. Lastly, the City of Grand Island played a big role in handling all the details that make everything official.

I would be remiss, however, if I did not also mention the Kaufman family whose original vision for the plaza created a foundation on which a community gathering place could grow. Kaufman Plaza became Railside Plaza in 2016 and will now become Amur Plaza in 2023.

The Wolbach and Kaufman families were instrumental in the growth and development of Grand Island, and particularly Third Street, dating back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Along with many businesses and properties, David Kaufman opened the Grand Theater in 1937, and was the primary contributor for the purchase of the original Salvation Army building when located at 124 East Third.

I would like to think the Wolbach and Kaufman families would be proud of how our Third Street area has been rejuvenated in recent years. I would also like to think they would be proud of all that is being done to build up our Fourth Street area as well. Kudos to both Business Improvement Districts for your dedication to our community’s economic vitality and quality of life.

Now, if we only had a pedestrian bridge to safely connect the two streets across all those busy railroad tracks…things that make you say “hmmm!?!”

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