In the News

Bandshell backers get OK for 20-year lease

BY MIKE FAHER for the Tribune Democrat
November 19, 2007

Just a few years after the Roxbury Bandshell faced near-certain demolition, the Johnstown landmark has a long-term caretaker.

City Council on Monday approved a 20-year lease with the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance, the nonprofit that rescued and has renovated the imposing, 68-year-old stone structure.

“The bandshell has been saved. It is not being torn down,” said Ebensburg attorney Tim Burns, who represents the alliance. “This is a long-term commitment on the city’s part, too.”

The bandshell had deteriorated after decades of neglect, and city officials decided in 2005 to demolish it to make room for more parking at Roxbury Park.

An emotional debate and a court battle followed. In March 2006, officials agreed to give the alliance 18 months to make major structural repairs.

The alliance has met and, in some cases, exceeded its contractual obligations. The group also has staged community events at the bandshell, including summer concerts.

“I think they’re doing a great job,” City Manager Curt Davis said.

The new lease is broken into four five-year terms.

The volunteer group’s mandate is relatively simple.

“The requirement is to maintain it,” Burns said.

“It’s going to be a functioning bandshell.”

City officials reserve the right to inspect the structure at any time. The alliance will assume all liability for the bandshell and must maintain general liability insurance.

As part of the agreement, the city will release $10,000 that the alliance previously was required to place in escrow.

However, the new contract also requires establishment of a $5,000 “sustaining fund.” It will be a joint account, but the money must be provided by the alliance.

Preservationists are hoping the 20-year deal boosts their fundraising efforts.

“I feel the momentum will stay there and the commitment will stay there,” Burns said.