Here in Shepherdstown, WV, we have very few major local conflicts… but one I discovered
shortly after moving here close to three years ago was the amount of complaining by a few locals being coordinated by their State Delegate John Doyle over the design of the Phase I Arts Center building at the University. Most of the original arguing went on before I moved to town… when I got here, drawn by the Nationally famous Contemporary American Theater Festival and the wonderful intellectual capacity of this small village (which was far superior to Hagerstown, MD, where Elly and I were living), the Phase I building was already about to open and, over the years, we have been to theater performances, art exhibits and related receptions there and found it a great structure and perfect art location.
Now, a number of locals who live, apparently, in 19th Century Houses across Rte 480 and who want Shepherdstown to stay a century-and-a-half-years-old in design, have returned to the presentation made at the University tonite to announce Phase II, and raised their issues again about the architectural design, copper shingling, round rooflines, etc. However, a relatively large number of residents, yours truly included, spoke in favor of the buildings and completely outnumbered the complainers.
The Phase II building will include a new Arena Theater (around 180 seats) which will be used by CATF in the summer and by the University the rest of the year; scenery, prop and costume shops; upper and lower lobbies; sculpture and painting studios; classrooms and more.
Dr. Suzanne Shipley, Shepherd’s President, introduced Doug Moss, Architect for Holzman Moss Bottino, who
presented the building design, and then answered questions, getting stuck in about 20 minutes of brouhaha from the design protesters. Ed Herendeen and a few of the CATF people, Mayor Jim Auxer and a number of other locals listened closely to the rest of the presentation, asked questions about handicap access and other design elements, and, in general, were impressed with the designs.
Phase II of the Center for Contemporary Arts is slated to be built on Shepherd’s West Campus at the intersection of Route 480, Shepherd Grade, and West Campus Drive. The second phase of the building is funded by an $11 million state appropriation – and, to be fair, Delegate Doyle has worked very hard to obtain the State funding and should be praised for his fund raising activities.
I’m looking forward to Phase II being constructed and know that, some years down the road, we’ll be entering the complaint fray with Phase III, which will add two more theaters and three more buildings to the mix.