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‘IT TOOK A DECADE Community dedicates Hansen Arts Park, opens ArtSpark celebration

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A crowd of around 200 people attends a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hansen Arts Park Friday. Mayor Katie Andersen, former Arts Center Executive Director Taylor Barnes and donor Jo-Ida Hansen were the speakers at the ceremony, most of which was held in the Arts Center due to weather concerns.2 / 3
Workers were busy Friday afternoon getting “Traffic Jam Experience” by Preston Drum, one of the ArtSpark’s artistic installations, ready.3 / 3

Jo-Ida Hansen grew up in Jamestown and so did her parents, Gordon and Charlotte Hansen. She said her parents, who owned The Jamestown Sun before it was sold to Forum Communications Co., loved their hometown and always wanted to see it made better.

Hansen, Mayor Katie Andersen, Taylor Barnes and Arts Center Executive Director Larry Kopp spoke during the dedication ceremony for the Hansen Arts Park Friday afternoon in the Arts Center gallery.

The Arts Park started becoming a reality in 2007 when the Jamestown Fine Arts Association Board of Directors voted to purchase the lot where the remains of the Orlady building sat, the northwest corner of 1st Avenue South and 2nd Street Southwest. The Orlady building, which housed King Photography, burned down in the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 2005.

With support from donors like the Hansen family, the Arts Park became a reality. The Arts Center, the nonprofit organization supported by the Jamestown Fine Arts Association, organized ArtSpark, a celebration that took place Friday and continues today at the Arts Park.

Hansen said when her parents were alive, the lot on which the park sits was just a hole in the ground.

“I remember them (her parents) saying at that time, ‘There should be some green space downtown,’” she said.

Barnes, the former Arts Center executive director, said when the JFAA Board of Directors met and discussed creating the Arts Park out of the lot that sits across 2nd Street Southwest from the Arts Center, she had two thoughts. The first was what an incredible opportunity to bring an arts footprint to a greater region of the downtown.

She said her second thought was: “These guys are nuts.”

Barnes said creating the Arts Park was truly a community effort with people providing ideas along with the donation of funds to make the park a reality. She said there were challenges in making the park something more than just an idea, but the park was also an opportunity to invigorate the downtown.

Andersen said the Jamestown City Council and the city of Jamestown are both pleased and excited to have a vibrant green space in the downtown area.

“It (a green space) is one of the most valuable catalysts to development,” she said.

Kopp said that as far as he knows Jamestown is the only community of its size, rural or otherwise, to have a world-class arts center and now a world-class arts park.

“It took a decade for this,” he said. “It’s such a wonderful day for the Arts Center and for the community of Jamestown.”

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"It’s such a wonderful day for the Arts Center and for the community of Jamestown.

Arts LARRY Center KOPP, executive director

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454