Outdoor Venue Gets Town Council Backing

The Barrington Town Council gives unanimous approval to the concept of an outdoor stage -- after raising some issues.

This performance venue in Riverside is seen as a model for a stage in Barrington. Credit: W. Rupp
This performance venue in Riverside is seen as a model for a stage in Barrington. Credit: W. Rupp

A proposed outdoor stage or performing arts venue in Barrington got the unanimous endorsement of the Town Council on Monday evening, Dec. 1. 

Kim Fournier of the Bay Spring Community Center and Dena Davis, founder of Arts Alive, made the pitch to the councilors after getting a previous endorsement from the Park and Recreation Commission. 

As proposed, the outdoor space would be modeled after the performance venue at Rose Larisa Park in Riverside -- although with a wooden deck, not a concrete slab. 

She said the estimated price tag for the venue of $32,000 includes materials but no installation costs.

Fournier and Davis proposed the outdoor venue for a spot near the Bayside YMCA, which also has given the stage its backing. But that location is not without a conflict. 

The vacant land between the YMCA and Veterans Memorial Park already has been spoken for by the Community Center Task Force. That conflict led to several other locations being suggested by Councilor Kate Weymouth, including the hillside next to the Barrington Public Library and the grass area next to the bathhouse at Barrington Beach. 

Councilor Ann Strong asked Fournier and Davis who would pay for the stage. Fournier said she anticipated that the town would fund it.

There was also some concern about the use of the venue and its environmental impact near Veterans Park -- considered an oasis of peace and quiet along with hiking trails and fishing in Brickyard Pond in the middle of Barrington.

Joel Hellmann, the former Barrington Community Theater director, also questioned its use as a venue for outdoor theater. He said an outdoor stage is simply not conducive to theater because it would lack lights, a backstage and other equipment needed for most performances.

Margaret Kane, chair of the Community Center Task Force, said she would like to have the group involved in the planning of the outdoor venue because it has often viewed a community center as a site for the performing arts.

Fournier and Davis were urged to go back to the recreation board to work out more specific details while seeking additional support and, perhaps, funding for the outdoor stage.


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