Amherst BID to seek bandstand bids

  • People of all ages gather for the 25th annual Taste of Amherst on the Town Common in 2016. The common may include a new bandstand for live music events by next summer. The Amherst Business Improvement District expects to call for bids for the bandstand in the next few weeks. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Friday, July 27, 2018

AMHERST — Concepts for a bandshell that would become part of the Town Common will be solicited from the public beginning next month.

After first pitching the idea of having the permanent structure on the Town Common a year ago, the Amherst Business Improvement District will put out a call for entries in the next few weeks, Executive Director Sarah la Cour said.

La Cour said the idea of having a bandshell on the common, which could be built in spring 2019, comes from the need to have a more formal place for performers in Amherst center.

“The key impetus is everyone talks about Amherst needing a performance venue,” la Cour said.

A bandshell is a type of bandstand shaped like a large concave shell with special acoustic properties. It is typically used for live performances.

In addition to the current demand for a venue, 1874 plans by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted depict what he termed a “music house” in a location at the eastern edge of the common, next to Boltwood Avenue and across from the Lord Jeffery Inn.

The bandshell would be available for at least three seasons, and because of the natural ampitheater formed by the shape of the common, the location would be ideal for various events featuring music, such as the Taste of Amherst.

Previously, Kuhn Riddle Architects created a design featuring an open shelter that would be expandable and would cost between $200,000 and $250,000 to build. But this plan is on hold.

The contest is open to anyone, with the BID requesting that at least one member of any team have an architectural or design license.

“We would like the winning team to go right to construction drawings,” la Cour said.

The winning team could get a prize of $1,500.

La Cour said the BID is putting together a seven-member jury to review entries that could include representatives from the BID, the Planning Board, the Design Review Board, the Historical Commission and the Public Art Committee.

Once the drawings are complete, sometime this fall, the BID would spend the winter doing permitting, as well as determining how much the structure would cost.

The BID has some funding available and may seek private donations and Community Preservation Act funds.

La Cour notes the timing for getting the bandshell built would coincide with renovation of the North Common, the landscape in front of Town Hall, and improvements to the Main Street parking lot, both of which have been put off until 2019.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.