By PJ Martin
As many of you may know, the Edmonton-Metcalfe Chamber of Commerce is in the process of raising money for a community stage that will be constructed in the historic courthouse yard. The stage will be built close to the gazebo location.
A stage committee was formed early in the process and you can talk to any of them if you have questions about the project. The committee members are Ron Underwood-Chairman, Daniel Bragg – Chamber President, Kim Harwood – Chamber Executive Director, Teresa “TK” Kitchens, Kyle Hadley, and Benny Lile.
Before the committee formed, the number one complaint received by the chamber was always, “Why can’t we get a stage in the courthouse yard?” That was asked more so during the Pumpkin Festival when a wagon or trailer had to be pulled into the courthouse yard to use as a stage.
Not everyone agreed with the plan and as usual many rumors were being spread so a town hall was held recently to let everyone asks questions and learn what is actually planned. For everyone who was not in attendance, we are listing some of the questions asked by those who attended and the answers to those questions given by chamber president Daniel Bragg.
Q. What’s this going to cost?
A. The stage was estimated at $40,000, this figure, however, did not take into account volunteer labor, so the actual number should be lower than that.
Q. Who is paying for it?
A. The stage project is being funded by the Chamber of Commerce, entirely through donations from local citizens and businesses who share the chamber’s vision, construction won’t cost the taxpayers of the county anything.
Q. Who designed it?
A. I drew the initial plans and did the rough rendering myself, former chamber president Torrie Osborn then sent my plans to RBS Design Group Architecture to produce the 3D renderings you see now and ensure the design matched the historical courthouse structurally and stylistically.
Q. How big will it be?
A. 24 ft. x 16 ft.
Q. Why does it have a solid back wall instead of being open?
A. The solid back wall serves two main purposes and addresses 2 of the 4 concerns about the gazebo that we will address later. 1. The back and half sides provide shelter from the elements for electronic and musical equipment, in the past acts have had to cancel for fear of a small shower ruining their expensive equipment and instruments. 2. The back and small sides will help direct the sound toward the audience.
Q. What if it is partially built and the money runs out, will it sit unfinished for a long time, because that makes the town look bad?
A. That’s not an option for us, we won’t begin the construction of the stage until 100% of the money has been secured and the materials needed have been procured. If we reach a point before construction where we see material prices increasing beyond our anticipated overruns we will address that and raise any additional funds before the start of construction,
Q. What’s wrong with the gazebo that’s already there?
A. As mentioned before, the lack of sides and a back are inadequate protection in all, but the lightest straight-down rain showers and they are bad acoustically. Additionally, the floor size of the gazebo is just slightly too small for many activities and performances. Along with the lack of floor space comes the lack of headspace, the low beam on the perimeter of the gazebo makes it seem very closed off and the rails hide a lot of the performance. The gazebo is also very low to the ground, this makes seeing and hearing the people on the gazebo, especially from a distance very difficult at times.
Q. What will you do with the gazebo that’s there now?
A. It is the county’s property, so the county can either move it to another county-owned property or sell it. I know that there has been an interest in buying it from at least one group to move it to a public place not owned by the county.
Q. Will any of the trees in the courthouse yard have to be cut down to make room for it?
A. No, that was one of the main factors in determining the location of the stage.
Q. Who will take care of it once it’s built?
A. The stage will be on county property and therefore will be owned by the county. The plan is to establish a board that will meet to discuss its upkeep and scheduling.
Q. Who will be able to use the stage?
A. Whoever wants to use it. As I previously stated, there will be a board that will lay out the final rules and regulations on use and scheduling. In my mind, the stage would be used by local musicians, churches, local schools, and social groups. There would be a limit to how often it could be used, say no more than once a quarter.