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Boone Chamber Hosts Lunch and Learn: Town Staff Talks Theatre, Post Office and Daniel Boone Park

By Jesse Wood

July 4, 2012. The Boone Chamber Commerce hosted a “Lunch and Learn” in conjunction with the Town of Boone on Friday at the Council Chambers on Blowing Rock Road.

Members of the town’s staff spoke about the progress and plans of several ongoing projects including the renovation of the downtown U.S. Post Office and the old Appalachian Twin Theatre; and the vision of the Daniel Boone Park at Horn in the West.

Doc Watson Appalachian Theatre

Pilar Fotta, the downtown development coordinator, spoke before the community members in attendance regarding the old Appalachian Twin Theatre, which will be known as the Doc Watson Appalachian Theatre when all is said and done. (Doc gave the Town of Boone permission to name the theatre after him months before he passed away.)

Fotta said plans for the theatre are in a “holding period,” and the Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) is in the process of renovating the theatre, which is in a “real state of disrepair.” Fotta added that it is “a beautiful mess,” though. After the building went into foreclosure four years ago, the Town of Boone agreed to front the DBDA $624,000 to purchase the dilapidated building, which has been estimated to cost between $1 million and $4 million by officials with the Town of Boone. Eric Gustaveson, the Town of Boone Facility Maintenance Superintendent, estimated at the “Lunch and Learn” that the theatre has a $2 million to $3 million price tag.

“We haven’t come up with a final number. We will release [the costs of renovation] when we know,” Fotta said, adding that the DBDA is in the process of paying the Town of Boone back and that the purchase and renovation of the theatre will be funded exclusively through private donations.

Fotta added that the theatre will showcase movies, live music, live theatre dramas and possibly live streaming of shows in the future. She said, for instance, that people in Japan love bluegrass and those people could buy a ticket online and stream the live show on the internet. She said the future of the Doc Watson Appalachian Theatre has learned from the failure of the Hayes Performing Arts Center in Blowing Rock, which closed down this winter.

“[We plan] for this to be a multi-functional space [that] sustains itself through revenues,” Fotta said.

Daniel Boone Park

Eric Gustaveson, facility maintenance superintendent for the Town of Boone, spoke about the Daniel Boone Park of which he was a member of the steering committee. A couple months ago, the Boone Town Council agreed upon one of three conceptual plans.

The Daniel Boone Park will be located in the Town of Boone properties in and around Horn in the West, which Gustaveson said was the geographical center of Boone. It includes the current home of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Strawberry Hill, Jaycees Park, Horn in the West and Daniel Boone Native Gardens.

“As we look at this wonderful asset that the town has, we were told to think big and dream about what this could be,” Gustaveson said, adding that in 10 years, the Daniel Boone Park may not look like the chosen conceptual plan.

“But it’s a good start,” he said.

He added that because of the project’s magnitude, which will cost between $9 million and $10 million, the Daniel Boone Park may be completed in chunks, namely beginning with the Horn in the West amphitheater because it is in dire need of repair. The restoration of the amphitheatre and seating bowl has a price tag of about $2 million.

Because you can’t take a left onto U.S. 421 when leaving Horn in the West, project officials have recommended realigning the stoplight on Horn in the West Drive at the N.C. 105 intersection.

Also to add extra parking for all of the increased activity, the Public Works Maintenance Yard will likely be moved across town in the future. But that location is unknown.

The first time we [looked at the conceptual plan], we said ‘You are eliminating our equipment yards’, which will be phased down the road,” Gustaveson said. “We are very congested, and we would love to see a larger yard to continue to provide services, house equipment.”

Read more about the Daniel Boone Park at HCPress.com: https://www.hcpress.com/tag/daniel-boone-park-project

Renovation of Downtown Post Office

Greene Construction was recently award the bid for the renovation for the downtown post office at a cost of almost $1.2 million. While the U.S. Post Office will still reside inside the building, the basement is being renovated to house the Planning and Inspections Department of the Town of Boone.

Renovations should be complete in February or March 2013, according to Planning Director Bill Bailey. Landscaping around the post office is being replaced, too. “Almost all [of the landscaping] is from the original design,” Bailey said. “Being a federal project, some of the landscaping materials weren’t suitable for here, so we are replacing those particular items with ones that are suitable for our environment.”

With the Planning and Inspections Department residing closer to the courthouse and post office, officials at the “Lunch and Learn” said this we be more convenient not only for Planning and Inspections Department personnel but also for contractors.

“We are fortunate to have [the post office] stay here. I think they are happy to be there. It’s a really great exciting project. It’s wonderful to be right in the heart of downtown,” Bailey said. “It’s an ongoing project – slow and steady pace to it.

Gustaveson added that the three-quarters of renovation costs have been set aside in portions during previous years’ budgets adopted by the Boone Town Council.

“Most of it has already been paid for,” he said.  

Read more articles on the post office at HCPress.com: https://www.hcpress.com/tag/downtown-boone-post-office