Public parks often become centerpieces for communities, and those with band shells tend to become magnets for people looking to gather, listen to some music and have a good time.
Examples in our region include the Jay Village Green, home of the Jay Entertainment & Music Society concerts; Riverside Park and the Berkeley Green in Saranac Lake; and Mid's Park in Lake Placid, home of the Songs at Mirror Lake Music Series and Lake Placid Sinfonietta Concerts in the Park during the summer.
There's no doubt that these public gathering spots have value to our communities. In addition to creating attractive spaces for human interaction during family-friendly activities, they provide venues for artists to share their work and provide a much-needed economic boost for neighboring businesses.
In Lake Placid, the crown jewel of Main Street is Mid's Park, which was recently overhauled and looks much more attractive today than it did in the past. There's a new band shell that hosts the two weekly concerts in the summer, free concerts. You see, much of what Mid's Park and these other village greens give us is free entertainment, which adds value to our lives and our community.
But nothing is really free. Someone has to hire the bands to play. Someone has to maintain the parks. Someone has to pay for the construction of the band shells.
The new band shell in Mid's Park - the Paul White Memorial Shell - was completed this past spring by Murnane Associates, a Plattsburgh-based company. It was prefabricated by Vermont Timber Works. Local architect Andrew Chary designed the structure, and village engineer Ivan Zdrahal drew up the site design. In all, the cost was $330,000 to construct the new band shell. Think about that the next time you're enjoying a free concert there. Then think about contributing something to the construction fund. It doesn't have to be much, just something. Every little bit helps.
The good news is that most of the cost is covered. The village of Lake Placid is paying for a third, the Uihlein Foundation is paying a third and a fundraising committee - Bill Billerman, Nick Politi and Jamie Rogers - committed to a third by asking the community to pay it forward. The committee has secured $96,000 but still needs to raise $14,000, hopefully by the end of the summer.
That means there have been many residents and businesses who already know the value of the Paul White Memorial Shell and have given generously, but it also means there are more people in the community who have not yet contributed to the band shell fund. We're asking those people to come forward and help.
As Billerman said, he's not doing this for himself or for his generation; he's doing it for his children and grandchildren.
"It's going to be there for a long time, and we need to make sure that it's paid for and taken care of," he said.
Donations to the band shell can be made via the Adirondack Foundation at www.generousact.org or by mail to P.O. Box 288, 302 Bear Cub Lane, Lake Placid, NY 12946.