Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ted Makar: Auditorium not ready for wrecking ball

The following letter was published in the Western News on May 4th, 2007:

Will our city council and school board work together for everyone’s benefit?

It just doesn’t make sense to destroy Pen High’s auditorium before having a replacement built. So many letters to the editor have praised the acoustics of the facility and so many concerts have enriched the lives of its audiences that replacing the auditorium with a parking lot is unthinkable. Why not consider remodeling? Let’s save our money.

The auditorium is built using two forms of construction — the seating area is mostly poured concrete and the stage is wood-frame construction. The comfort, capacity, and acoustics of the seating area are up to standard and only need some cosmetic improvements and some new technology to continue into the future. The stage area, since it needs to be larger and have more elaborate production equipment, could be replaced. Redevelop — don’t wreck and (hopefully, eventually) replace.

In view of the city’s commitment to the building of the South Okanagan Event Centre, funds for building a new performing arts centre may be hard to come by for some time into the future. Neither city council nor school board need to face a taxpayer revolt to finance another new facility. These bodies need only come to an agreement for the redevelopment of the auditorium. They have worked well together to open up school facilities for multiple use. Why not a lease arrangement thus giving time for adequate planning and community consultation?

With continually rising construction costs it makes good sense to save taxpayer dollars by adding a foyer to the auditorium, a new performance area and also save the excellent gym for community use. This could be done for a fraction of the cost of acquiring land and building a new auditorium and drill hall. Compare an estimated $5 million with $35 million.

Citizens and politicians do take pride in good management. Together, we have preserved then developed waterfront parks, heritage ships and buildings, and infrastructure such as the original convention centre and city water and sewage treatment facilities. Legacies need not be new flashy showpieces.

No comments: