A crew broke ground on the foundation for the new River Mill Park bandshell this week.
“We are pleased that the weather has allowed us to get this start,” said Ross Kirwin of the Rotary Club of Huntsville. “It will allow the concrete to cure for a few months before the upper structure is added in the spring.” The foundation work is being completed by Watersedge Designers Builders.
Design of the upper structure of the bandshell is almost complete, said Kirwin. “The final design is a work in progress but we are very close. We’ll get the final dimensions after the concrete is poured and will finish the design over the winter. It will probably go out for tender in February. The idea is that it will be built indoors and then a crane will lower it on to the perfectly placed bolts in the foundation in the spring.” (See initial plans and concept drawings for the bandshell in our earlier story on Doppler here.)
The project is a joint effort by the Rotary Club of Huntsville, the Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and the Downtown Huntsville BIA and will be funded through contributions from all three groups as well as community fundraising. The project got a boost from Rotary’s successful application to the Aviva Community Fund contest which had local residents voting the project to the number two spot in its category and resulted in a $30,000 award to offset construction costs.
Fundraising isn’t complete, however.
We haven’t got a final estimate for the structure yet, but we’re probably two-thirds of the way to our fundraising goal. I’m confident we’ll be able to raise the rest of the money.
Ross Kirwin, Rotary Club of Huntsville
A buy-a-brick fundraising campaign is planned for the new year to help Rotary reach its goal. “It will start January 2. We know there will be three different sizes at three different price points. We’re still working on the colour, layout, and number – that will be based on the number of square feet available in the design. The plan is for the bricks to form the back wall of the structure.”
The project is scheduled for completion in May with an opening concert to celebrate.
“We’re planning to have something on stage the May long weekend,” said Rob Saunders, General Manager of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts. “We want to make sure its running smoothly before Band on the Run on June 11. That’s a commitment we’ve made to them.” Band on the Run is a road race that incorporates musicians throughout the course and culminates in a music festival featuring popular Canadian bands in River Mill Park.
The bandshell will give community groups a proper place for outdoor performances, said Saunders, and it also adds the potential for other events in the park. “The Festival’s intent is to use it two or three times during the summer for outdoor music days, probably featuring local musicians. And we’re looking at a way to do a concert series, but we’re a long way from that. We’d like to keep it an active spot. I think it will evolve.”
Saunders recognized that hosting bigger events in the park will be a larger undertaking. “To be able to monetize the park and use the bandshell for larger, more expensive groups requires perimeter fencing and a way to control crowds. And the park isn’t going to be fully ready for that – we need to solve that parking triangle first. Once (the park) expands a bit and really connects to the dock it will add a lot more potential area to the park.”
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