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October 20, 2013

Auditorium a separate ballot issue for voters

TRAVERSE CITY — Logan Dell'Acqua stomped around Central High School's stage during a student performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" when something unexpected happened.

A built-in stage light that was supposed to be glued down and painted over popped up at Dell'Acqua's feet.

"It was surprising, I'll say that," said Dell'Acqua, now a senior at Central.

Dell'Acqua danced on without incident during that fall 2012 performance. A near-tumble over an unexpected light is the type of quirk he's become used to after years of performing at the aged high school auditorium. It's also the type of quirk performing arts students and staff hope is a thing of the past, if voters agree to a $13-million, .09-mill Traverse City Area Public Schools' ballot proposal for auditorium reconstruction at Central.

The millage will cost $9 in taxes annually on a piece of property worth $200,000 in market value if approved, TCAPS officials said. The auditorium proposal is one of two TCAPS ballot proposals on the ballot.

Central's auditorium dates back 1959. TCAPS officials have long said the existing facility's inadequate technology and space limit both the size and quality of student performances.

Paul Mahon, the district's director of capital projects and maintenance, said the auditorium's lighting, sound and electrical systems need to be updated. Small wings on either side of the stage and limited storage and rehearsal spaces also are problematic. So is the lack of an orchestra pit.

Wendee Wolf-Schlarf, TCAPS' K-12 music coordinator, said the current auditorium is an acoustic nightmare.

"We call this the box because (the sound) just goes out and stays put," Wolf-Schlarf said. "It doesn't resonate."

Seating is a concern, too. The auditorium contains roughly 540 seats, but many of those are creaky and falling apart. Dell'Acqua demonstrated such during a choir group practice last week when he held up an arm rest that had broken clean off a seat.

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