Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A flurry of letters

There have been several letters in The Herald recently. From the April 30, 2007, edition:

Bill Henderson
, a musician, writes: "Since I first started working as a touring musician over 40 years ago, I must have played over a thousand rooms on this continent. The big coliseums are always better for spectacle than music and many of the smaller rooms are better for sports, or focus on the consumption of alcohol. Pen-Hi's auditorium is on of a dwindling number of venues that sound good, feel comfortable, and are designed to provide a focus on the stage. A true concert environment." (full letter in the Western News)

Brad Lee, president of the Penticton Triathlon Club focused on the training needs of his club: "Many of our club members use the Pen-Hi track throughout the year, but we do not have access to toilet facilities. We have brought this to the attention of the city previously, only to be informed vandalism will make the cost of external toilet facilities prohibitive. The cost of making the existing toilet facilities in either the auditorium or the gymnasium accessible would be a great benefit. In addition, during the winter months, the club would like the opportunity to rent space for weekly indoor spinning sessions [...] Three years ago, we had to rent a squash court in a local facility to hold indoor spinning sessions for a youth triathlon program. At this time we still do not have access to indoor facilities, outside privately owned buildings (with limited times available)!" (full letter in the Western News)

On the negative side, Gerald Westbrook weighed in with the following: "I for one am tired of the small majority [sic], mostly out-of-towners, constantly whining about the scheduled demolition of the Pen-Hi auditorium and gym. A new state of the art school is being built. Two old ramshackle buildings tacked on to it would be completely incongruous, and ruin the visual impact. Not only should they be demolished, but the Shatford Ellis edifices also, which are a constant source of continuous maintenance. Just take a look at the brickwork; it all needs refacing. School board employees are there almost every day working inside and out. It's a losing proposition, on what over the years will become a bottomless money pit, swallowing our taxes. These two buildings will look ridiculous when joined to the new complex. There's no historical significance, just several old buildings which need removing in the cause of progress."

[Editorial comment: While we are at it, we could cull a few other architectural eyesores around town, including the Community Centre (resembles a police headquarters), the Granite Club (which will look like a trailer in front of a mansion once the SOEC is built), the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre (organic growth gone wild), Memorial Arena (speaking of ramshackle), Penticton Regional Hospital (ugh!), and according to some, the new Vistitors' Information Centre and Princess Margaret Secondary. Paving over all these buildings will reduce our taxes while simultaneously improving our city's visual impact.]

There were also two letters of support in the May 1, 2007, edition of The Herald:

Carol McGibney (whose Christmas concerts were a big part of my childhood) writes about her first experience in the Pen-Hi auditorium in 1959: "Having performed in many theatres as a soloist and member of a touring choice back in Ireland I was immediately impressed by the acoustics. In this day of electronic and highly amplified music it is a blessing to have such a treasure."

Patricia Thomas relates a story about a touring pianist from New York who was known to be difficult: "At the intermission, I asked him of his needs and he replied that everything was fine but that he had to comment on the acoustics of the auditorium. He said he had never had the opportunity to perform in such a small structure with such excellent acoustics. He would perform here any time just to have the pleasure to be in it. I am not a performer but I am a listener. Please do not tear down the auditorium. It is a rare jewel we will regret losing after it is gone.

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