Hopewell Township Committee discusses proposed Woolsey Park bandshell

On March 21 the Hopewell Township Committee met in person for their regularly scheduled meeting to hear a presentation on the Woolsey Park bandshell construction. 

After a roll call, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger began the discussion on Woolsey Park. “As you may recall, last year the state of New Jersey gave Hopewell Township $500,000 for the construction of the bandshell,” Ruger said. The money included the bandshell’s construction, landscaping, and associated parking, however it does not include other items such as water and septic. 

“$500,000 is going to require some compromises to construct this and we want to do it by spending no money from Hopewell Township. We also want to be able to finish this by the deadline which is May 2023,” Ruger explained. 

Ruger explained that Township Engineer James Hutzelmann would describe what was adopted in the Committee’s request for proposal and what is being asked of the consultant in respect to the bandshell. “As a liaison to the Woolsey Park Advisory Committee, I will then provide a presentation,” said Ruger. 

“This is a very specialized construction, so our first task was to get some help to consult us through that design process,” said Hutzelmann. After reviewing all the bids, the Committee selected Suburban Consulting Engineers to help with the construction. 

Hutzelmann explained that there is a three-month time frame for the preliminary design where the consultants will meet with Township staff and members of the advisory committee to gather initial thoughts, and come back with a design and cost estimate. After reviewing an initial design, based on comments and suggestions they will make a final design. For that process, there is a timeframe of three to six months as it involves permitting. 

Ruger then began his presentation by listing the members of the Woolsey Park Advisory Committee. Ruger explained that he asked the Committee to come up with potential uses for the park, understanding that there are budget constraints. “There had to be an understanding of what are must-haves and what is nice to have,” Ruger said. 

“The other thing we asked of them is to take a look at the park and come up with places that will make sense for a bandshell to go,” Ruger said. 

With regard to design, the Committee came up with a list of requirements. These included a welcoming design, placement that won’t interrupt the park flow, a clear line-of-sight view, space for an audience up to 300, a stage big enough for 10 musicians and equipment, easy access to parking, and multiple entry points.  

“They also are asking for the potential of a drop-down screen. We have had so much success with movies in the park this seems like a great idea,” said Ruger. Not only are movies a potential usage, but also concerts, plays, ceremonies, and cultural events. 

In the ‘nice to haves’ column some ideas are easy access to drinkable water, a dressing room space, easy access to restrooms with lighting, ticket booths, concession stands, trashcans, and theatrical lighting. 

Ruger then showed an aerial view of the park, with four potential sites for the bandshell. “We’re going to have to run an electric line somewhere, so we want to make sure we’re doing that in the right place. We also don’t want our neighbors adversely affected by it, and we certainly don’t want our memorials affected, said Ruger.  

There is one area in the middle of the park near some memorials that is surrounded by invasive plants, making it an effective potential site. Committee member Kevin Kuchinski asked about consideration for public parking, which the consultants are thinking about. 

“I think this will be a very great addition to the Township,” said Ruger. Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning added her excitement for the first concert.

The next Hopewell Township Committee meeting is scheduled for April 4.

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