The first phase of construction on the New Paltz amphitheater project at Lenape Elementary School is slated to begin in October, according to Jenn Voorhis, president of the Duzine/Lenape PTA. The Columbus Day holiday weekend is the anticipated start date. The schedule will accommodate Mark Masseo’s landscaping firm — which is donating its time to the project — and allows work to be completed while the kids are off from school.
Stormwater management is the first segment of the job. While not the most exciting part of the project, Voorhis acknowledged, it needs to be done before the concrete is laid for the stage area.
Following that, the first layer of “tribute bricks” will be installed. Made of durable Eco-Priora Unilock in a granite color, the tribute bricks have been engraved with family names and messages commemorating a child’s school years or honoring loved ones. Sales of tribute bricks at $200 each is one of the ways the Duzine/Lenape PTA is raising funds to build the amphitheater. Proceeds go directly toward construction costs. The project will be funded entirely through fundraising and donations.
The total estimated cost at this point is $125,000. To cover contingencies, the fundraising committee is aiming for $150,000. So far, said Voorhis, almost $15,000 has been raised through the sale of 72 tribute bricks. Additional funds were raised through events that included “The Peanuts Sing-Along” organized by the New Paltz United Teachers (NPUT) union and a kickball tournament put on by New Paltz High School’s Piglets class (Participation in Government, Literature and Economics for Today’s Students).
A “GoFundMe” campaign is also underway. Future events to raise money are in the works.
An effort will be made to get local businesses involved. “We’ve all noticed how our community is willing to sponsor sports teams, and we hope they’ll sponsor the arts as well,” said Voorhis.
Applying for grants is also part of the strategy.
Construction will happen in phases as resources allow. Voorhis said the committee decided to start the project so people could see where their donations are going. Construction will also maintain the enthusiasm the New Paltz community has expressed about the amphitheater.
The multi-tiered, semi-circular structure has been designed to work for smaller groups as well as at full 500-person capacity. The amphitheater will be surrounded by stonework and natural landscaping. It will feature a portable, storable band shell. When completed, it will provide a place for students to rehearse and perform plays. It’ll be an outdoor classroom, a gathering place, a setting for the annual fifth grade moving-up ceremony and a public venue for use by local nonprofits.
After the first tribute bricks are installed this fall, the next phase of construction will be the seating. “We’re hoping we have enough resources to build the ground-level bench,” Voorhis said.
Tribute bricks may be ordered online at www.NewPaltzAmp.org. The GoFundMe campaign is accessible from the website. More information is available on Facebook at “New Paltz Amphitheater at Lenape.”