DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

June 12, 2014

Londonderry auditorium group gives update

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — A committee continues its work to build an auditorium to town.

But if and when an auditorium is built, it would not be used for high school graduation.

The Londonderry Auditorium Committee is working to find ways to make an auditorium a reality at the high school.

Committee chairman Tony DeFrancesco gave an update on the group’s progress at a Town Council meeting June 2.

He said good work is being done to figure out what the town can afford and what the plan would look like to serve both school and community needs.

The auditorium would be built next to the high school cafeteria, but also would serve community at large.

DeFrancesco said the committee looked at five sites, but the one next to the high school was best.

He said the adjacent 9,000-square-foot cafeteria could serve as a staging area or “green room” equivalent for performances.

That could save the town about $700,000.

Discussion also included how many seats the auditorium would have.

With a 800-seat proposal now being worked on, DeFrancesco said the space would never be big enough to handle high school graduation.

Original plans had called for a bigger auditorium.

Londonderry school Superintendent Nate Greenberg said the district is happy with its graduation arrangement with the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.

“That works out fantastic for us,” Greenberg said.

He said it’s not uncommon for the Verizon to have more than 4,000 friends, family, graduates, band members and school officials filling every June for graduation.

Past auditorium plans have topped $14 million for a space that could seat 900 or more people.

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

DeFrancesco said there is no set price tag yet, but said the 2006 work is valuable as the group moves forward in 2014.

“The goal is to provide an auditorium at a reasonable price,” he said, “and a good size that works for all.”

A more formal report with more details will come back before the School Board at a meeting Aug. 26, DeFrancesco said.