Town Meeting voters approve $333,000 for new bandshell in Onset

Oct 23, 2018

Town Meeting voters approved the spending of $333,000 in Community Preservation Funds to replace the Lillian Gregerman Bandsehll in Onset in a manner that would revive the existing structure’s ‘Victorian charm’ while modernizing its equipment.

Each year, the Community Preservation Committee awards money to projects through the Community Preservation Act in four categories: open space, historic preservation, affordable housing and recreation. The money is raised through a 3 percent surcharge on property tax bills.

Spending these funds must be approved by voters at Town Meeting. The replacement of the bandshell would fall under two designations: recreation and open space.

Located at 1 Union Ave., bandshell hosts dozens of annual events which routinely draw crowds numbering in the hundreds. Other organizations, such as the Cape Verdean Festival Association and the Wareham Boys & Girls club also make use of the space.

Events at the bandshell make our community a better place to live,” said Onset Bay Association President Kat Jones. “But it’s gotten to the point that band aid repairs no longer work.”

According Jones, exposure to the elements has broken down the bandshell to the point of no return. She cited rotting wood, missing latticework, lack of seating and electrical issues as the primary needs for the replacement.

Approved changes for the bandshell will restore the existing benches at the structure and create additional seating for up to 200 people. Brick stairwells will be built between aisles to prevent further erosion along the hillside when it rains. New audio equipment, lighting and handicap accessible areas would be also added to the bandshell along with landscaping.

The $333,000 request for the project is based off industry estimates and is projected to cover the bulk of the replacement cost including demolition. Current estimates for the new bandshell sit at $357,724.

Jones noted that the Community Preservation Funds would be used to match a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council with all unused monies returning to the town. The OBA also plans to host additional fundraisers for the project as well.

During discussion, voters expressed concern that the replacement of the bandshell could not be carried out due the article’s wording which stated that structure was in Prospect Park.

According to Onset resident Lisa Morales, the bandshell sits in Pavilion park rather than Prospect Park, the later of which not being owned by the town.

“Its erroneous,” Morales said. “And I don’t think we should vote on it until it’s been corrected.”

Town Council Richard Bowen responded by saying that the name of the park included in the article was ‘minutiae’ with the only deciding factor being the bandshell’s address at 1 Union Ave.

“Everytime a project comes up in Onset we talk about who owns it or who doesn’t,” said Onset resident Patty Neil. “But the town is the guardian of the property. We’re gaurdians, all of us, and we do what we have to do to maintain it and to keep it safe.”

The article ultimately passed by a majority voice vote.

“I’ve looked at and worked at that bandshell for over 50 years,” said Onset resident Winna Dean. “I’ve seen it deteriorate with a lot of help from all around. The CPC money will make it look good again.”