The cynics were way off with the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater. And we're thinking they're going to be wrong about the planned Nelson Park aquatic center project as well.
No one will come, it's not worth the money, there are other uses for the investment. Same arguments for both.
With the Devon, which opened Memorial Day weekend, thousands have descended on the venue along Lake Decatur to see bands and entertainment. A full lineup extends throughout the summer.
There was plenty of skepticism it would turn out this way when the Decatur Park District was developing the Devon, named after the wife of donor Howard Buffett. Announced in 2014, it lost state funding because of a paperwork error. Organizers regrouped and stayed focused.
We're glad they did.
The space is already a showcase for our community.
The $10.5 million aquatic center on the other end of Nelson Park has faced a similar delay, in its case because of nasty winter weather. Earlier this month, it was announced an additional $3 million from the Build Illinois Bond Fund would go toward a splash pad and lazy river.
On social media, however, the good news was overshadowed by familiar arguments about how no one will come and how pools are a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
To be sure, both the Devon and the aquatic center are funded in part by taxpayers, and taxpayers have every right to complain about where that money is going. They also have every right to vote or not vote for Park District board members or maybe even run for the board.
In our view, both of these projects are important investments that will pay off. We take particular issue with the belief that people won't come to the aquatic center.
Take a walk around Scovill Zoo or the Children's Museum and tell us there's not a demand for family amenities here. If admission is priced right -- and we cannot underscore enough how important this is -- the development has potential to attract crowds from throughout Central Illinois.
No more heading to Springfield or Monticello. They'll stay here.
Just seeing those slides and buildings take shape near Overlook Adventure Park is like catnip for any kid under 12. Just imagine when the whole thing is complete.
It's early, of course, with the Devon, and there are things like parking and closed streets to get used to. But the path to success is overwhelmingly clear.
We think the same will be true for that aquatic center taking shape bit by bit every day.