Bandshell plans go ahead for Amherst Town Common

AMHERST – A long-planned bandshell for artists on Town Common, which would become the first permanent structure on the green space and be part of the Destination Amherst initiative for business leaders, is one more step towards reality .

About 18 months after the Amherst Business Improvement District presented a vision to attract more visitors to the downtown area, city council members expressed their appreciation for the bandstand project on Monday and have it. referred unanimously for consideration by a subcommittee. The Municipal Services and Outreach Committee will report to council by December 6.

Amherst BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould told councilors the arts and culture are an economic engine for the city, and the bandshell, designed by Naomi Darling / Ray Mann Architects, can be a unique piece of functional public art for a future post-COVID-19 pandemic.

“The potential is wide open,” Gould said.

The Downtown Amherst Foundation would cover the costs of its construction.

The drawings show the bandshell, 38 feet wide and 24 feet deep, with an architectural origami folded plate structure roof, and positioned at the edge of Boltwood Avenue near the Inn on Boltwood.

A rainwater garden would be formed around its stone plinth. This is the same place where landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1874 plans for Town Common represent what he called a “house of music.”

Already, the Municipality of the City is regularly used for events, in particular concerts. The BID first addressed the idea of ​​building the bandshell in 2017.

District 5 Councilor Shalini Bahl-Milne said she appreciates the vision. “Residents are asking for downtown spaces so that we can build a community,” Bahl-Milne said.

District 3 Councilor George Ryan said he was impressed with the architecture, which won a BID competition in 2018. “I am very moved by this,” said Ryan.

District 2 Councilor Pat De Angelis said the structure is beautiful, but added that it challenges the character of the city due to its modern appearance.

There are concerns about whether it could be vandalized, with District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam wondering what would happen if graffiti was put on it. “The city doesn’t have a good record for maintaining some things,” Pam said.

While the Amherst BID is also pursuing an indoor concert hall, which will be called The Drake Live Performance and Music Venue, Gould said the project will likely be intentionally closed during the summer, making the orchestra the centerpiece of music during those months. The Drake is slated for the floor of the former High Horse, with the IDB aiming to raise $ 250,000 with matching grants for construction.

If the bandshell were built, it would be the first structure on the Common since an information booth was removed several years ago. Changes to the town’s commune have often met with resistance.

In 1991, for example, the Amherst Rotary Club proposed to design and build a $ 20,000 steel and masonry bandstand at no cost to the city. However, the select committee rejected the offer following an advisory article from the municipal assembly in which 72 were in favor and 76 against the gift.

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