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CRAB Gives SAHA Two Weeks To Bring Alternative Proposal To Prevent Demolition of Drama Facilities

By Jesse Wod

Dec. 3, 2013. The Cultural Resources Advisory Board (CRAB) for the Town of Boone met on Monday afternoon to continue discussions regarding the future of the Daniel Boone Park.

ASU theater students hold signs in front of the Jones House during the CRAB meeting voicing their support for 'Horn in the West.' Photo by Jesse Wood
ASU theater students hold signs in front of the Jones House during the CRAB meeting on Tuesday expressing their support for ‘Horn in the West.’ Photo by Jesse Wood

During the meeting, CRAB passed a motion to give the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) two weeks to present a detailed plan for the town to reconsider the demolition of facilities used by the “Horn in the West” production. Instead, SAHA wants to repair the structures. 

SAHA produces “Horn in the West” in the Daniel Boone Park, which consists of a large swath of property separated by Horn in the West Drive. The property features Daniel Boone Native Gardens, Jaycee’s Park, the grounds of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Hickory Ridge Homestead Museum, Horn in the West Amphitheater and Strawberry Hill Arboretum.

In the spring of 2012, the Boone Town Council created CRAB to offer recommendations on cultural resources in the town. At that time, the Boone Town Council was entertaining a conceptual plan on what should be done with the Daniel Boone Park and its facilities that had for years been – and still are – deteriorating. While a majority of the Boone Town Council endorsed the ambitious, costly conceptual plans, it pressed for the involvement of its own cultural resources board before moving any further with the project. 

The project hasn’t moved any further since then.

This past October, CRAB endorsed the development of the Daniel Boone Park but made the motion vague enough to not specifically reference the ambitious Marquis Halback Plan presented to the Boone Town Council in the spring of 2012. Prior to that CRAB endorsement, the Boone Town Council denied a request by CRAB to fund an itemized cost sheet to develop the property, because as CRAB Chair Frank Mohler noted, the town essential said, “We can’t afford to fix anything, so why should we pay to have an assessment done.”

In November, the Boone Town Council allocated up to $20,000 to fund “immediate items” such as the demolishment of certain facilities utilized by the “Horn in the West” production. Town staff noted that preparations to begin demolishing any facilities wouldn’t begin at least until January. 

On Monday afternoon, SAHA members were present at the CRAB meeting. Dave Davis, a curator of the Hickory Ridge Museum, which is also a production of SAHA, said that members of SAHA had met with a professional engineer earlier in the day who said that any demolition was “premature” and repairs would cost the same as demolishment. However, Davis said that SAHA needs time to get in contact with a structural engineer who would prepare the engineering plans and stamp his or her approval on those renovations.

Among the structures to be demolished are the left stage wall, back wall and the PIT building.

“Without the PIT, we are shut down,” Davis said.

Billy Ralph Winkler, a CRAB member, made a motion to give SAHA time to come up with an alternative plan and review the situation in January. After a representative of SAHA mentioned that the motion should include re-allocating that $20,000 set aside for demolition towards the repairs, Winkler mentioned that he would be in favor of that funding method after seeing SAHA’s proposal is met with approval from the rest of the board.

After discussion lingered a bit more, Wayne Williams, a CRAB member, noted that Winkler’s motion didn’t receive a second. Williams then suggested that the board call a meeting on Dec. 16 at 3:30 p.m. if SAHA is able to get a structural engineer to sign off on exactly what repairs would need to occur. A detailed list of plans and dollar amounts would need to be included, too.

Board members noted that if CRAB then likes what it hears and town staff approves of the repairs, it may reconsider the demolition request and bring it before the Boone Town Council at its monthly meeting in December.

Ray Christian, a CRAB member, noted that CRAB isn’t trying to be “adversarial.”

“We would like you to be successful,” Christian said. “Make your best argument.”

Other members and staff echoed Christian’s comments about wanting to see “Horn in the West” be successful, too.

“We are tasked with not just blue sky. We are tasked with responsibility and being good stewards of a long-term cultural plan,” CRAB member Kim Wangler said, adding that safety is a priority. 

After CRAB members expressed concern about the sustainability of these renovations, SAHA members noted that the repairs would suffice for at least three decades. SAHA also agreed to repair any electrical repairs that code requires because a crew member conducted an unauthorized repair without a permit earlier in the year. 

“SAHA would like to work with the CRAB and the Town to plan and implement phases of removal and/or rebuilding of ailing structures. This will allow us to continue to serve the community and the tourist community as we’ve done for 62 years now,” a memo from SAHA to CRAB and the Town of Boone reads. 

Here is an article about a prior CRAB meeting in early October. 

Read memo from SAHA to CRAB/Town of Boone: