Hudson Family Park turned 10 years old this year.

The facility — it was more than a decade in the making after the Hudson family donated about 33 acres of land for the project in 2000 — was dedicated June 26, 2011.

By all accounts, it has been a success.

The community survey Portland Park Board recently completed as part of the process of creating its next five-year plan showed Hudson Family Park is the most utilized in the city, with 94.5% of respondents saying they visit the facility. In terms of what is used most, trails and paths — Hudson has a walking path that connects both to the Kelly Baggs Nature Trail and via a bridge to Weiler-Wilson Park to the north — topped the list. The playground at the park is a popular destination, and other features include a bark park, sledding hill and recently added disc golf course.

But one disappointment about the park is that after the city spent significant money to construct a beautiful amphitheater, the venue is drastically underused.

The Hudson Family Park amphitheater plays host to occasional events. Arts Place held a couple of concerts there this summer and the facility has been used by not-for-profit organizations like The Rock Church and Midwest Pet Refuge.

The facility had by far its most regular use during the summers of 2013 to 2017 for Stars in the Park, an area talent competition sponsored by Jay County Chamber of Commerce and spearheaded by now-Mayor John Boggs. Consistent use, though, has been lacking both before and since.

When the park was being built, the idea was that the city would be involved in launching a free summer concert series.

That never happened.

But it’s not too late.

As Portland Park Board continues work on its five-year plan and Portland City Council looks at its 2022 budget, the general lack of use of the amphitheater is a problem that can be solved.

Consider this financial formula: $5,000 from the city, a request for a $5,000 grant from The Portland Foundation and $5,000 in corporate sponsorships. That would provide $15,000 for a free summer concert series at the amphitheater.

Of course, there would be other details to work out, including who would be in charge of such an undertaking. The park board could form a concert committee. The city could partner with Arts Place. Or an entirely new organization — the Portland Parks Performance Panel (who doesn’t love a little alliteration) — could be formed.

There are plenty of models out there. Communities all around, including Dunkirk, Fort Recovery, Berne, Winchester and Bluffton, host a concert series each summer.

We spend a lot of time talking about big, expensive projects and trying to figure out how to fund them. In comparison, a concert series is an inexpensive way to provide what would likely be a popular amenity.

Those in small-town government and community development spend a lot of time talking about the importance of quality-of-life issues when it comes to keeping and attracting residents.

Portland has a quality venue.

It’s beyond time we start using it. — R.C.