Fundraiser set for new pavilion

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MANCHESTER >> A concert to raise funds to help construct a new pavilion and bandstand for the town green is set for next Thursday, Dec. 10, to whittle away at the remaining $12,000 needed for its construction.

The concert, which will feature local bands "Don't Leave" and "Muddy Hollow," will be held at the Perfect Wife Restaurant from 6- 9 p.m.

Supporters of the bandstand initiative, a private group of local residents working in conjunction with town officials, hope to close the remaining gap in funding and have the pavilion in place by next summer, when a series of "concerts on the green" as well as other events typically take place there, said Ray Ferrarin, one of the committee members involved in the project.

"Given the status of what we have now and some more funding efforts we're going to be doing, I think we'll have the bandstand ready in time for the early band concerts," he said.

The town green, the site of a former auto sales and garage business, was acquired as a town park in the late 1990s, and underwent and overhaul this past summer, with new walkways and other amenities added to it. Adding a pavilion with roof and covering, which would provide a good visual platform for speakers at public events and would protect expensive electronic equipment in the event of less-than-perfect weather, seemed like a good finishing touch, he said, adding that with the other enhancements now in place, this was an opportune time.

The total cost of the pavilion and bandstand is estimated at $45,000. The committee is reckoning on about $6-7,000 in materials, labor and other in-kind support, and have additionally raised about $27,000 towards the funding goal, leaving about $12,000 more to go, Ferrarin said.

An earlier effort to construct such a pavilion around the time the town green area was acquired didn't pan out, but between the new enhancements made this past summer and the completion of the Roundabout in 2013, this represented a final piece of the puzzle, he said.

A design of the pavilion was circulated on a fund-raising flyer earlier this year shows a shingled roof covering over two supporting posts, embedded in the base of the structure.

"It will be durable and beautiful for generations to come," Ferrarin said. "It will consist of materials that reflect Manchester's manufacturing history and made out of marble, slate and timber and will be traditional looking."

From the standpoint of performers who have entertained audiences at the green, the pavilion offers a major upgrade, said Lee Romano, a member of "Don't Leave" — one of the bands that will perform at The Perfect Wife Dec. 10. Don't Leave has been one of the bands that have been one of the regulars on the list of musical groups which have performed at the Town Green for the past several years.

It's been necessary for them to have protective tarpaulins handy in the event of rain, and the location of the new stage and pavilion area — on the side of the park closer to the adjacent west branch of the Batten kill and facing up a slight slope towards a grassy area where the audience will sit — will also work well, he said.

"Visually, the eye will be drawn to the location with the structure, and I think that will create some definition around the green that I think will enhance the experience," he said.

Having the stage and pavilion down in the bowl-like area on the north side of the park works better for the audience, he said, compared to the western end of the park — the side closer to the roundabout — where the performers used to have to stand, he said.

In the past, before this year's enhancements to the park, performers requiring electrical power used to have to be positioned in that corner of the park to access the nearest electrical outlets, which is no longer the case.

When approached about performing in the fund-raiser next week, Romano said that was an easy call.

"Getting the band together was not difficult," he said. "Everybody rallied around the idea because we've been playing in that area for so many years."

Four of the band's five members will be on hand for the show. They'll be performing an "unplugged" play list that will feature a mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, he said.

Greg Cutler, a member of "Muddy Hollow," a group that formed last year and includes Geoff Chamberlain and Alex Lehmann, also said his group was excited to take part in helping raise some money to help complete the structure. They'll be performing a mix of classic rock and country — "an eclectic mix that people will enjoy because they'll know the songs and they can sing along," he said.

Their 90-minute long set will open the show at 6 p.m., he said. They also may join in with "Don't Leave" later on in the evening and play a few tunes together, he said.

"I think it will be terrific for performers," Cutler said, referring to the proposed bandstand. "It will be aesthetically pleasing for spectators as well. It's a small part of a much bigger picture — Manchester has really transformed itself."

"Band Together for the Bandstand" — as the fund-raiser at The Perfect Wife is being called — will be a terrific community event that will bring awareness about the upcoming project at the Town Green, said Town Manager John O'Keefe.

"We are very grateful that the arts community, particularly the two bands, have rallied behind the cause and that The Perfect Wife has agreed to host the event," he said. "With our current momentum and some more fund-raising, we will hopefully be on track to start work this coming spring."


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