Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Popular, Old Idea Suddenly Takes
on a New Life--A Park Gazebo, for a Cooler Concert or Gigantic Gatheriing


Once the program style and curriculum had been changed along with the name change of the Assembly to Institute in 1920, following the destruction of the uninsured amphitheater by fire in 1918, there was really no hope at that point for replacement. As the years past, however,  people and groups began to "dream the impossible dream" and speak about some sort of facility / shelter to be made available in the Park.

Just within the last three years, I have heard individual members from three of the Board's Committees start  up a conversation about the benefits of building a gazebo in the Park. The Program Committee member stressed the option of having one or more Friday night concerts under the gazebo in the Park so as to be able to take in the cooler breezes of the sunset as opposed to the closed indoor space of Epworth no matter how hot or humid.

The member of the Worship Committee pointed to last season's worship under the tent and spoke of how nice it was to worship in the great outdoors--at least on occasion. The member of Long Range Planning Committee from whom I heard made no bones about wanting to replace the 2500-seat amphitheater. I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed by the suggestion since we no longer have those size crowds. Nevertheless, there seems to be interest in utilizing the Park for some of our regular activities such as worship and concerts. Perhaps a gazebo seating between 150-200 would meet the needs of the current trends.

One of the suggestions included the adding of Victorian gingerbread to fit the Park and Historic District neighborhood. Stoody and Hoag serve the Institute well in the small group category but SLI could use a secondary and outdoor facility for the services and concerts that draw over 100.

Even the inspirational song, "To Dream the Impossible Dream" is filled with illustrations of overcoming the impossible and turning our dreams into realities. Let's at least keep the conversations going for the sake of serving people in the best of ways.

Comment 1
Nancy Sellar

I I have been thinking about the proposed idea for a structure in Burt Park to use for concerts and outdoor worship services. As we consider returning the space to its earliest usage, let us not lose sight of the park as our only recreational space.  With   most cottages on lots that were originally for tents and only 33 feet wide, resident teens and children don’t have much outdoor space to run around and to play games. For the past 100 years, ever since the amphitheater burned down, Burt Park has provided those opportunities, and has been the recipient of equipment for this purpose; swings, slide, tether-ball, ball field backstop, basketball hoop etc. Any plan to situate a new structure must  take these needs into account. A sizable gazebo will be in use only a few hours a week during two summer months at most, while the open space is used at many different times daily throughout the year.

Careful planning and landscape architecture could accommodate both purposes. Let’s be sure that all stake-holders are represented in th.e planning process.       Nancy Sellar

Comment 2
Greg Franklin

I I agree with you 100%. We very much need to maintain the limited Park / Recreational space we currently have in Burt Park. This includes maintaining the integrity of the baseball diamond since it's currently the only one we have. It probably would be valuable exercise to evaluate our current use of undeveloped property. Once upon a time, the Institute had a baseball diamond and visitor bleachers with overhead up in the Meadow area right before the Land-Fill. It's a beautiful area experiencing extremely limited use.
  Secondly, if this IS a defensible and useful project, the question needs to be raised: What current committee could sucessfully draw up a plan and nurture that plan through the Trustees to fruition? Those who see the wisdom for the project are also the same folks who are already immensely involved in busy committees. I wonder if a Task Force whose sole attention is on this project might be the better way to go.

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