DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

February 27, 2014

Auditorium talk resurfaces in Londonderry

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — An auditorium at the high school is still on the minds of the Londonderry School Board and community members.

A committee is in place to keep the dialogue going about how to fund the construction of a performance space at the high school.

That topic has been coming and going for many years.

It’s an expensive venture to think about and not currently at the top of any priority list for spending taxpayer money. But it is also something that could boost the school district when accreditation time rolls around.

The auditorium committee is led by Tony DiFrancesco, and includes school officials from many departments and community members.

The group meets regularly to keep the auditorium talks going.

It’s now time to move forward, DiFrancesco said.

“Is it the right time to build? Not yet,” he said. “But it is time for the next step.”

Not having a space for school musical groups and others to use for performances is always listed as a deficiency when accreditation teams visit Londonderry.

DiFrancesco said the group wants to secure an architect to begin the process of streamlining a location, cost analysis, and ways to raise funding through private or public partnerships, in addition to taxpayer support.

It will be an expensive venture.

Past plans have topped $16 million to build a performance space that could seat 900 or more people.

A 2006 plan produced artist renderings and information, but it was way too much to spend at that time, officials said.

DiFrancesco said an optimal site would be at the high school.

One plan 15 years ago had a town performing space proposed atop a hill on Mack’s Apples land.

“That one looked like a pagoda from Japan,” School Board member Steve Young said.

That plan did not get support from the town, Young said. He wants to make sure this newest venture would specify a space to be used as a “school auditorium” for Londonderry and for other community groups.

The School Board voted to spend $30,000 for an architectural study of an auditorium, including site analysis, conceptual designs and financial information.

“I think this is the appropriate way to approach this project,” Superintendent Nate Greenberg said.