Grant funding boosts pavilion plans at Warwick Community School

  • Warwick has received a $20,000 Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund matching grant to develop a pavilion and amphitheater at the former Warwick Community School property, pictured. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 5/21/2021 3:17:25 PM
Modified: 5/21/2021 3:17:18 PM

WARWICK — The town has received a $20,000 Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund matching grant to develop a pavilion and amphitheater at the former Warwick Community School property.

The Selectboard and Warwick Education Committee voted unanimously in support of building a pavilion back in December 2020. Speaking this week, Warwick Education Committee member Tom Wyatt said the structure, to be built on the school’s 25-acre grounds, will serve as a joint performance space and outdoor classroom, and is a key step in Warwick’s plan to redesign and reopen its elementary school. The Pioneer Valley Regional School District voted to cease use of the building in January 2020, and the town subsequently voted to withdraw from the district and pursue opening an independent elementary school.

“We haven’t locked in the design yet, but we’ve got some drawings and the Selectboard will be reviewing designs soon,” Wyatt said. “We’re hoping to do it this building season, this summer, but we need to go out to bid and do that whole process.”

Wyatt said the Education Committee hopes to recruit volunteers for construction, and noted that some residents have already expressed willingness to help. Donors have contributed more than $6,000 in donations and now, with this grant, Wyatt said the project is really on track.

The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, better known as MassDevelopment, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council jointly administer this grant fund. Wyatt said he developed the grant proposal with outgoing Selectboard Chair Lawrence “Doc” Pruyne, and Education Committee members Janice Starmer and Susan Hollins. They received notice of their award last week.

“This is a big boost for our plans for the new Warwick elementary school, and this will also do double duty in the community as an excellent and flexible performing space,” Pruyne said. “We’re really happy about this, of course. And I’m so proud of the town.”

According to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Cultural Facilities Fund offers grants to support the acquisition, design, repair, rehabilitation, renovation, expansion or construction of nonprofit cultural facilities. The goal is to increase investments from both the public and private sector to support the sound planning and development of cultural facilities.

The grant has a one-to-one cash match requirement, and will see the town put $20,000 of its own money toward the project. Wyatt said the more than $6,000 in donations will be put toward Warwick’s match.

“The pavilion has two main purposes,” Wyatt said. “One is as a performing arts location, and the other is an outdoor classroom.”

Wyatt said the Cultural Facilities Fund grant emphasizes the arts aspects of the project. The pavilion will be built at the base of a bank on the side of the school, and those attending performances could use the embankment for extended seating.

Back in December, Wyatt also said the pavilion is one of three parts in the plan for developing an Environmental Education Center. This plan incorporates community gardens, which would expand on the current gardens at the school with volunteer help. The third part of the plan involves recently approved development of marked forest trails on the 25-acre grounds.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-930-4579.

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