Construction begins on the Tannery Pond Community Center.
Robert Zilch, who lived at Garnet Lake with his family before they moved to Queensbury, was selected as the architect for the new Tannery Pond Community Center. Bob had previously worked on the restoration of the North Creek Train Depot and the expansion of the Town of Johnsburg Library.
One of Bob’s most memorable memories of Tannery Pond was driving to the site for his third or fourth job site visit. As he was driving north, he heard on the radio that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. And then another. It was Sept. 11, 2001. Most of us remember where we were when we first heard of the attack on the World Trade Center. Bob Zilch was headed to work at the Tannery Pond construction site in North Creek.
By September of 2001, the old Alexander’s Garage had been torn down and official groundbreaking was on the bright overcast afternoon of May 24. Initially there was concern that digging deep into the steep bank might unearth problems with groundwater or springs, but that didn’t happen. An extensive water migration system was installed nevertheless, as well as a significant retaining wall. Helped by unusually warm temperatures in the 50s and 60s well into January, work progressed briskly and, V & H Construction, the general contractor, was able to get the building’s roof on and the building fully enclosed by February.
The steep bank enabled the building to feature a two-story tall auditorium yet have the appearance of only one story along Main Street and thus not overwhelm the buildings around it. The core of the building was designed for receptions and a gathering place for people before and after concerts. The back wall of the foyer is a large wall of windows overlooking the North Creek stream. Looking down at the stream from those windows one can easily imagine that they were on an Adirondack ridge rather than in the vibrant community center in town.
A double vestibule entrance helps to make the building energy efficient by keeping out cold winter winds. But that is just the beginning; the whole building is a thermally efficient envelope. The building is primarily heated and cooled by six (550 foot) geothermal wells. Pumps draw fluid down a closed system to heat or cool that liquid to the 52 degrees in the wells. The fluid is then drawn through 13,000 feet of piping in the floor and over two miles of piping in the closed geothermal energy system. Heating and air conditioning is controlled by a sophisticated computer system which can be programmed for planned events months in advance.
Yes, traffic was disrupted for a time on Main Street during construction, but there were easy work-arounds and it helped that Warren County decided to replace the bridge over the North Creek stream at that time. Their closing the road made work on Tannery Pond that much easier. Day by day, we all watched the building going up, curious and excited.
Although the Widlunds wrote the big checks during construction, many in the community wanted to help, too. The North Creek Rotary donated $5,000 towards the stage lighting and sound equipment. The local Stewarts and Citizens Communications each added $500 and Niagara Mohawk tossed in $275. The Our Town Theatre Group raised $10,000 for the theater curtains. Local contributions to the “Buy a Seat” program helped pay for the 131 telescoping theater seats. The Johnsburg Historical Society raffled off a quilt by Betty Walp to raise money to restore and preserve the historic O’Keefe Opera House stage curtain that is now part of the permanent exhibit in the Tannery Pond Gallery. Antique furnishings were donated by Terry Ainslie and Jane Klippel and the library and bank donated meeting tables and office furniture.
Next week: Live Theater