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After the final winter snow flurry hit Sedona last week, April temperatures have returned to the spring norms, meaning now would be the perfect time to take the family out and enjoy local performances.

While our readers know the saga of the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park, part-time residents and tourists may simply look back through our archives, and think the best place to enjoy a play or concert — of course benefitting a local charity as is the norm in Sedona — is the Posse Grounds Pavilion, a dome amphitheater at the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park on the east side of Posse Grounds Park.

News Editor Christopher Fox GrahamConstruction of the amphitheater was completed in 2010, according to one of our stories written in 2007.

In a story covering the Sedona City Council forum before the 2008 elections, five candidates said they wanted to work with the park’s neighbors and the community to see the outdoor venue finished during their term. None of the winning candidates are still on the council — at the end of their terms, the park grounds remained a vacant red rock lot.

A 2009 story in our paper said the stage would see its first performances in early 2012.

A late spring editorial in 2012 commended the city for overcoming the last hurdle and finally approving an architectural design that aimed for the park to be open by 2013. So surely now the city has finally built a community performance venue at the site. However, it’s just too difficult to find.

Maybe the pavilion just blends so perfectly into the scenery one can only find it with a dowsing rod and treasure map.

Maybe it rises from the ground only when a performance is scheduled, like the headlights on a Mazda RX-7.

The truth is the outdoor venue is still just a mirage. The dome that would one day become the Posse Grounds Pavilion collapsed while under construction last August. Eight months later, the park looks like it did in 2001 when the city first approved plans. Forensic investigators and insurance companies had to look over the site to determine fault, and in the meantime, silence is the only orchestra at the site.

Antonsen, who fought to save the land from development in the 1990s and wanted it turned into a community park, died 11 years ago this month.

Installing streetlights on State Route 89A, the Uptown Enhancement Project and redesigning State Route 179 from the Village of Oak Creek to the ‘Y’ roundabout were proposed, planned and finished in less time.

Elementary school students who may have looked forward to attending events at the venue are now getting ready to go to college. Maybe they can one day take their own children to a performance at the park.

The city is scheduling meetings to discuss alternative designs, but when they get approved and construction resumes is anyone’s guess. Admittedly, gathering opinions from and approving designs takes time and getting them OK’d by neighbors kicks off a whole new round of public meetings.

In the meantime, the Friends of the Posse Grounds, a group of community activists, many who worked alongside Antonsen to save the land, must be wondering if all their fundraising efforts to get the park paid for will eventually bear fruit.

Expect to finally see the park in 2020. If it happens any sooner, then we can commend the city for getting it done early.

In the meantime, the Sedona Cultural Park is open for … nope. It’s in limbo, too.

Christopher Fox Graham

Larson Newspapers


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