More than just a stage | AspenTimes.com

More than just a stage

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

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BASALT – Taking center stage in Basalt shortly will be – a stage.A new performing arts stage on the west end of Lions Park is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month. It’s the definition of a community project. Councilman Glenn Rappaport’s Black Shack Studio donated the architectural services. The town government scrapped together the funds. Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley was hired as the contractor. Numerous businesses donated materials or services for free or at discounted rates. And numerous individuals have donated labor.”It’s a nice little addition for the town,” said town manager Bill Kane, a key, early proponent of the stage.The project wouldn’t have gotten off the ground if Basalt had pursued it like a regular capital improvement, where it paid for the design then put it out for bid and hired a contractor, Kane said. That would have driven the cost beyond the town’s $40,000 budget.Instead, the town paid Habitat for Humanity a flat fee to be the contractor.”We usually don’t do projects outside of housing,” said Scott Gilbert, president of the valley chapter of Habitat for Humanity.It made sense for Habitat to jump in, he said. The town wanted the project done quickly and cheaply, and there was a desire among some in the town to help. A regular contractor couldn’t have enlisted volunteer labor because of liability issues; Habitat’s specialty is finding volunteers and putting them to good use.In return for its effort, Habitat gets good exposure in the midvalley, Gilbert said. “For us, it’s fun. It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I think what we’re building is a trust factor.”The community also wins. “If nothing else, it creates a great band shell in Basalt,” Gilbert said.Lions Parks is in the center of town, where the chamber of commerce’s caboose and town hall are located. The stage is on the west end of the park, and west of the Wyly Community Arts Center. It opens to a large section of lawn.The stage has a performing area 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide. The three walls are up, with a wood exterior of beetle-killed pine from Colorado. Myers & Co. Architectural Metals of Basalt donated trusses for the roof as well as a crane to position them. The last remaining major step to complete the band shell is to lay plywood decking and cover it with metal.Four employees from CCY Architects in Basalt were volunteering their labor on Friday, along with Don Schuster, an executive with the Aspen Skiing Co. Chris Touchette of CCY, a resident of Basalt, was among the volunteers. He said he donated time because the project provides an important community gathering spot for Basalt. “Plus it’s a hell of a way to spend a Friday,” he said under a clear blue sky.The stage is already showing its value to the community, Touchette noted. It’s in regular use even though it’s not finished. Jayne Gottlieb Productions is using the structure for plays and rehearsals. Wednesday evening concerts have also been presented there.Judging from the requests the town has already received for use of the stage, it’s going to be popular, Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux said.scondon@aspentimes.com

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