DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

May 1, 2014

Londonderry auditorium group continues work

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — A committee continues to work on ways to bring an auditorium to town.

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

The topic has been on the minds of town officials and community members for years.

Committee chairman Tony DiFrancesco gave an update on the group’s progress at a School Board meeting last week.

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.

DiFrancesco said the effort is picking up momentum with the committee talking to town officials to get input, including fire and police officials.

Group members have made site visits to other communities to see their performances spaces, including Bedford High School. The group also plans a trip to Keene to see the 1,000-seat auditorium at that high school.

Right now, the group has enlisted the Marinace Architects to help with early architectural and other work at the high school site. No work being done will affect any high school activities or classes, DiFrancesco said.

“There will be no safety or noise issues,” he said.

The School Board voted earlier this year to spend money for an architectural study of an auditorium, including site analysis, conceptual designs and financial information.

That cost right now is approximately $25,000 for initial costs, with another $5,000 approved if needed.

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, officials say.

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 is at the high school, but the space would not be located within the main building.

A more formal report with more details will come back before the School Board by the meeting Aug. 26, DiFrancesco said.

The group’s next meetings are May 1 at 3 p.m. at the School Board room, and again May 13 at Londonderry High School’s Room 219 at 6 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.