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Public help sought for Botanical Garden project

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GREEN BAY – More than peonies and roses are in bloom this year at the Green Bay Botanical Garden.

Financial support for the long-planned addition of a Grand Garden & Amphitheater at the popular 20-year-old nature center is also blossoming. Project leaders plan to announce at a news conference Tuesday morning that almost 70 percent of the funds needed for the $5 million expansion project have been secured or pledged through private donors this spring.

Now, organizers are calling on the public to help wipe out the balance.

“We want to (break) ground in mid-September, so we’d really like to be very confident at that point that we’re ready to go,” said Kathy Hartman, who with her husband, Doug, is chairing the garden’s Perennial Performance Capital Campaign.

Officials hope to debut the Grand Garden & Amphitheater in fall 2017 after construction and landscaping are completed, with a full opening in spring 2018.

A kickoff concert for the second phase of fundraising will be Tuesday night. The performance by Transit Authority, a tribute to legendary rockers Chicago, will be held in the 2.5 acres of green space where the additions are planned, just off the back patio of the Green Bay Botanical Garden’s Fischer Visitor Center.

“It’ll give people a great chance to see what it looks like today and then to hopefully envision what it can be like when it’s all complete,” Hartman said.

The existing bowl, which has been temporarily cleared of its collection of magnolia trees, is to be transformed into an outdoor entertainment venue. The centerpiece is an amphitheater. A combination of seats, open grass and a VIP area that will overlook the bowl is expected to accommodate up to1,500 people for concerts by regional and national touring acts, as well as events that showcase local performing artists.

“There’s a lot of outdoor performances (in the region), but really nothing like this,” said Susan Garot, the botanical garden’s executive director.

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