WILLIAMSTOWN -- Thespians at Mount Greylock won't have to wait too long to regain use of their stage, as the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee voted unanimously to replace the auditorium's asbestos fire curtain "as soon as possible."
This will not affect the school's spring production of "Guys and Dolls," which Principal Mary MacDonald has arranged to be held at Williams College's ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance.
Last month, the district was ordered to cease theater operations in the auditorium by Building Inspector Michael Card. He told officials that assemblies, band rehearsals and lectures would be allowed to continue.
"His position is that theater is the riskiest business you can do in an auditorium with props and cost, and that our auditorium is at it's tipping point in terms of what can be allowed," School Committee Chairwoman Carrie Greene explained Tuesday.
Card previously granted a one year probation on the asbestos fire curtain, which drops in front of the stage to keep flames from spreading.
Discussion during Tuesday night's meeting focused on whether or not to replace the fire curtain in anticipation of a possible school building project.
One option presented was to move the school's theater program off site for the next four to five years. "However, not having a curtain and having to take theater off site could have a significant impact on the theater program," Greene said.
Member Chris Dodig, who ultimately moved the committee act expediently, agreed.
"I can't see anyway financially, and in terms of the benefit to our students, that we could justify putting [the program] off site for five years," he said.
Initial estimates for a new curtain run approximately $68,000, Greene said. The work would likely be completed this summer.
Most of the cost, she said, is associated with removal of the asbestos curtain, as it is made of a dangerous material, along with treating existing curtains with flame retarding chemicals.
Options committee members discussed to pay for the curtain's replacement include reducing payments on the boiler room project completed in 2009, taking out a loan, or using money from the tuition fund. The Finance Committee is scheduled to meet in February to discuss the district's options.
School officials have cited numerous issues with the campus, built in 1960 and added to in 1968, including failing heating and ventilation systems, energy inefficiency from the lack or absence of insulation, and mold issues. In addition, spaces such as the auditorium don't meet many of today's building codes.
To reach Edward Damon:
or (413) 663-3741 ext 224.
On Twitter: @BE_EDamon