At the Chestertown Council meeting, Feb. 19, Kay MacIntosh of Main Street Chestertown told the council about plans to acquire a portable stage for town events. The stage, which can be hauled by a pickup truck and set up by two people in about 30 minutes, would replace the town’s current stage.
The stage, from Stage Line, a Canadian firm, offers a 16-by-20-foot covered performance surface, with mounting brackets for lights. It folds into a road-legal trailer, which means it can easily be moved to and from the sites where it is needed, and it could be stored in the town yard between uses.
MacIntosh said that Main Street plans to apply for a matching grant from the Maryland Heritage Authority to fund the purchase, which she said would total about $103,000. She said the idea came up because of the time and manpower the town street crew needs to set up the town’s current plywood stage every time it’s needed for an event. She said she had looked into several suppliers, and the Stage Line model appeared to have the best quality. “It should last 20 years,” she said. The stage also has removable back and side panels which can be put up or left off depending on weather.
She asked the town for a $5,000 commitment toward the purchase. She said the pledge would show the granting foundations that the town supported the project. Main Street would donate the stage to the town. She said that because of the timing of the grant process, the funds for the stage might not be available until the end of the summer. The price quoted includes all the accessories for the stage, plus two days of training to ensure that the local crew can set it up efficiently.
Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said, “I think it’s a wonderful idea. I think we could probably sell off our old stage, which someone might want for a more permanent installation.” He said the sale would possibly recoup the town’s investment in the new stage. He said it takes four men about four hours and requires the use of heavy equipment to move the stage from storage and set it up. Last summer, the stage was left standing in Fountain Park for the entire season so it wouldn’t have to be taken down and set up every two weeks for the Music in the Park concerts. Ingersoll also commented that the stage would cause much less damage to the park, since it could be wheeled into place. He also noted that the stage has a plug to allow amplifiers or other sound equipment to be attached directly.
Mayor Chris Cerino said it would be a good idea to sell the current stage. Ingersoll said he would advertise it as soon as the new one arrives.
Councilman Marty Stetson said he remembered when the town purchased its current stage, which he said had been a real improvement over the “cement blocks and plywood” that were used before the purchase. “I certainly would be in favor of something newer,” he said. He said it could also be taken to Wilmer Park for events there.
MacIntosh said the stage’s portability would allow the town to set it up for a morning event and take it down and move it for another event later in the day. “I think it’ll help every nonprofit and civic group that has events.” She said it might also increase the number of town events because it would make hosting them easier. She said she wanted to talk to Farmers Market manager Sabine Harvey about using it in the park.
Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, a member of the Tea Party Festival committee, said the group would be interested in using the town’s stage for this year’s festival.
The council voted to set aside $5,000 contingent upon Main Street Chestertown obtaining the grants, and authorized Cerino to send a letter of support for the grant applications.
MacIntosh also reported that Main Street Chestertown is sponsoring a “bluegrass block party” from noon to 3 p.m. April 20, which is also the date for the town’s Earth Day celebration. The concert, rescheduled from the fall, features the Baltimore-based Dirty Grass Players. Beer and barbecue will be available.
The stage will be set up on High Street between Cross St. and Lawyer’s Row, and there will be no parking on that block. McIntosh said that between the Earth Day festivities and an Easter egg hunt in Wilmer Park, it should be a “great day for Chestertown.” The council approved permits for the event.
In response to a question by Councilman David Foster, Ingersoll said the “MVA on Wheels” bus has been having trouble getting wi-fi service for its computers at the Fountain Park site where it normally sets up. The bus personnel will be visiting town to explore alternate locations with better service. Possible sites include the uptown shopping centers, which have adequate parking and power hookups. He said he would know within a week or so what site has been chosen for March.
Cerino said that Verizon will be installing a new antenna on its cell tower near Dixon Valve’s High Street headquarters, which is expected to improve service in the downtown area. Ingersoll said installation is tentatively scheduled for April.
Also at the meeting, the council approved setting aside funding for a consultation with a marina management company, Coastal Properties Inc., to explore operational procedures and marketing plans for the town-owned marina with the mayor, Ingersoll, and other town staff who work with the marina. Cerino said a half-day consultation would cost $550. The council approved the funds, which would come from the marina operating account.