On June 3, Piedmont voters will go to the polls to vote on Measure H, which will authorize the Piedmont Unified School District to issue bonds to renovate the Alan Harvey Theater. We can be reassured that Piedmont is still Piedmont, as a thoughtful discussion in the community has begun.
Speaking from the experience gained from my involvement with the rebuild of the new Havens Elementary facility, I want to voice my support for Measure H and the plan to renovate the high school theater. If you're not familiar with the issue, the current facility, built in 1975, is in poor condition. Measure H will provide funds to improve it on many fronts: accessibility for disabled audience members and performers alike; safety with fire and life safety upgrades; better mechanical, electrical and utility systems; better restrooms; and added space.
The current facility is heavily used by the K-12 performing arts program, ranging from theater (drama and musicals) to concerts to dance performances -- and it is also used for student assemblies and parent education programs. It is a focus point for the Piedmont schools and community.
To my mind, there's little question this busy facility, now close to 40 years old, is in need of extensive improvements -- now. I believe on that point there is near-consensus. The real question is whether the plan we have is sound; I want to assure you that it is.
First, Mark Becker has once again conceived a strong plan for the theater that will provide the space and improvements we need -- with a focus on containing costs. The plan is to renovate the theater, not rebuild it -- which is a savings.
Second, this is a reasonable amount of money to spend on this project. There will be inevitable comparisons to Havens, but construction of a classroom building versus a theater with its infrastructure and technical requirements make this an apples-to-oranges comparison. Let me say it plainly: the budget makes sense.
Third, renovating this building with this plan is truly the Piedmont way. We all know our great school system is the foundation of what makes this town special. We have a commitment to the students, present and future, which we fulfill thanks to dedicated teachers and staff at the schools and, of course, amazing community participation. And yet we try to be smart about how we do it: this plan will bring the theater up to the standard of the rest of the educational opportunity we provide -- in a sensible, cost-effective way.
I am excited about this plan and the prospect of a theater that is safe, accessible and up to the standard of Piedmont's schools. I am looking forward to working with the campaign and voting "yes" June 3 on Measure H. I hope you will join me.
Andy Ball, a leader in commercial construction projects, partnered with designer Mark Becker to rebuild Havens School in Piedmont on time and within budget.