There has been a breakthrough in efforts to locate a proposed outdoor performance structure in the Bedford Cultural District.
Barbara Purchia, the resident who has spearheaded the grass-roots campaign for almost two years, told supporters in an email last week that Town Manager Matt Hanson has “identified a great location between the tot lot and Town Center/Town Hall that would meet all the location and department requirements.”
That opened the door for the project’s fundraising committee to submit an application to the Community Preservation Committee for the first phase: “landscape architecture, survey, and design consulting services,” Purchia wrote.
Purchia, a longtime member of the Cultural Council, reported that the application will be reviewed at the next committee meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and if approved, will be part of the community preservation funding request on the March 2024 town meeting warrant.
Purchia organized a working group that calls itself Bedford POPS, for permanent outdoor protected space. According to promotional materials the group has prepared, POPS is envisioned as “an outdoor entertainment and gathering venue for Bedford,” and “a place to hold concerts and events, awards ceremonies, crafts, plays, story times.”
Planners believe the work can be accomplished without spending town money, except for an allocation from the community preservation fund. They estimate construction costs at $200,000 to $300,000, much of which would be raised through donations and grants.
The POPS working group discussed its plans with the Select Board in October, but there was concern about the location, in front of the brick façade of the Town Center west wing. The audience space in front of that site overlaps with the outfield of the lighted softball and baseball diamond known as Field E. And “no one likes a temporary fence,” Purchia said.
The revised location is angled so that the audience won’t be in the playing area, allowing “multiple uses without the concern of conflict with ballgames,” she explained.
Members of the Bedford POPS subcommittees met in the fall with Hanson, Assistant Town Manager Amy Fidalgo, and representatives of several town departments: recreation, public works, and facilities. That was followed in November by another meeting at the original site, which led to identifying the alternative.
“We are now one more huge step closer to realizing a community supported project that will enhance life in Bedford for current generations and generations to come,” Purchia told supporters. “This will be a wonderful addition to the Cultural District and town activity complex and will be great for the 300th celebration.”