To the Editor:
I am writing in support of the RestoreORR project. As President of the Friends of Old Rochester Drama, I would like to thank Hal Rood and the other members of the subcommittee for spearheading this plan. I can certainly attest to the needs of the lighting and sound updates that are so badly needed in our auditorium. I say “our” in the sense that it belongs to the tri-town, not just the drama club. The lighting system is outdated and several fixtures are just completely no good. This is not just a matter of changing the light bulbs. Fixtures are falling out of the ceiling causing potential danger. Also, these fixtures in the ceiling run very hot. We have students laying on their stomachs in the crawl space of the ceiling running these lights and they must wear large insulated “oven mitts” if you will, so that they do not burn themselves. The lighting that was installed 20 years ago under the major renovation project are not available any longer and the technology has improved to the point that the savings of running LED lamps will eventually pay back the cost of the project and protect our students from getting burned because they run at a much cooler temperature. The auditorium used to be a place that could be rented out to dance schools and other organizations, which generated revenue (I’ve heard up to $36,000 a year just for dance recitals). These dance schools are no longer renting our auditorium because we do not have the facility and technology that they want/need for their performances. An updated system would bring these dance schools and other organizations back to us, along with the revenue that goes with it, which then should be put into an account that is strictly used for auditorium upgrades, eliminating the need of having to go to the towns asking for money.
With regard to the fields, I have seen the condition of the field and though I am no expert in this, it is quite obvious that the condition of these fields is deplorable and a danger to athletes, especially in inclement weather. We have visiting coaches who are refusing to allow their athletes to play on our fields because of this. Our athletes are embarrassed to play on their own fields. I have attended the meetings with the experts who have explained these dangers and why the artificial turf, with modern technology, is so much safer and much more cost effective than trying to maintain the grass fields. In response to Finance Committee Chairperson Pat Donoghue who “walked the entire length of the track” and found only 20% needing repair, I must ask where the expertise in this comes from? Did you walk the fields? Did you see the holes, and the bumps, and the bare spots in these fields? And also to the person who deemed this project as creating an Olympic-style field, this is most definitely an exaggeration. The project has already been scaled back to the bare minimum needed for safe and playable fields and track.
I urge you all to become familiar with this project before going to town meeting to understand what the request is actually for. These are not cosmetic needs. The needs of the auditorium and the athletic fields are for the betterment of the community as a whole, the home athletes as well as the visiting athletes, the drama club as well as the tri-town, who use the auditorium for various needs and the organizations who would like to rent our space, but now choose not to due to the fact that the systems in the auditorium do not meet their needs.
President, Friends of Old Rochester Drama