Woolsey Park bandshell plan finalized 

A final plan for a new band shell at Woolsey Park will create an “amazing” outdoor performance space that can easily accommodate audiences of 200 or more people, according to a presentation to the Township Committee by the Woolsey Park Advisory Committee.

The presentation last Monday night outlined a months-long effort to integrate the band shell into the existing footprint of the park and provide an intimate performance space

The next steps will be to find a contractor and finalize all of the details of the project to keep it within the budget, advisory committee member Russ Granzow said. Construction is expected to begin in December with a planned opening of the bandshell in May.

“This is amazing,” Township Committee member Kevin Kuchinski said. “We have seen so much how Woolsey Park can bring this community together … and the band shell only adds to that.” 

The band shell will be nestled into a stand of trees to the right of the parking lot. The trees will separate the band shell from the memorial and provide a large open space for the audience with clear sight-lines.

The site also provides existing pathway access from the parking lot in the park and the larger parking lot in the neighboring municipal building complex and provides the best access for those with limited mobility. It also allows room to lay power lines to the band shell.

Granzow said the site also provides for bigger happenings  — fireworks displays, stage plays, ceremonies, movies and cultural events — with a wide expanse of lawn seating. There will be no fixed seating or benches around the stage. 

Working with a design consultant, several other sites in the park were considered but had drainage issues or might have been intrusive on the solemn space created for the 9/11 memorial or on neighboring properties.

The base bid, expected to be approved in November, will be for the main band shell, a cantilevered, open-roof design constructed from cedar. The stage, on a concrete pad, will be 19 feet in the back and 40 feet in the front with enough space to accommodate 10 musicians. The shell would include theatrical lighting as well as a drop-down movie screen. 

The shell will also likely include a 450-square foot dressing/storage room at the back of the stage. The advisory committee originally hoped to have two such rooms on the wings of the stage, but revamped the design to save on costs. 

The Committee will also work to create space within the existing budget or other sources for several ancillary, “nice to have” components, including well-lighted restrooms, easy access to drinkable water, a ticket booth, concession stand and trash cans.

The finished facility should create opportunities for generating revenue for self-sustaining operation, according to Committee Member Michael Ruger.

The cost of the band shell itself will be covered by a $500,000 grant from the State of New Jersey. Ruger credited the assistance of State Senator Shirley Turner and Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Anthony Verrelli in the successful grant application.

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