Last summer, inclement weather forced the cancellation of numerous outdoor concerts at Italian Lake.
City officials and local activists expect a better outcome next year, as today they unveiled a new pavilion that shields the park’s stage from the elements.
“This is a tremendous improvement to the value of Italian Lake,” said Jeb Stuart, a board member of the Harrisburg Parks Foundation. “Now, we’ll be able to make more events happen here.”
The foundation was one of several groups to contribute money for the $36,800 project. First National Bank (FNB) donated the bulk, with a $25,000 contribution. The foundation, the city and a group of business people led by activist Mike Trephan filled in the remaining funding gap.
Kennett Square-based Recreation Resource USA built the pavilion, which was completed last month.
The 90-year-old, 9.5-acre manicured park in Uptown Harrisburg has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years.
Several years ago, the ornate fountains were restored, and the community group Friends of Italian Lake introduced several swans into the lake during the warm weather. In 2015, Harrisburg Young Professionals spearheaded a renewed summer concert series, which had been suspended for several years after Harrisburg entered its financial crisis.
At the ribbon-cutting today, Trephan said that the idea for a pavilion took root two years ago after the U.S. Marine Corps Band (“The President’s Own”) had agreed to play at the park, but cancelled after learning there was no shelter on the stage, which is a requirement for them to perform. Therefore, he began to tap into his network of business people to raise money for the project.
“It’s an honor to be part of what the city has done for the last seven years,” he said. “But we know that the city doesn’t have the funds to do everything that it wants to do.”
Community activist Peggy Grove said that Friends of Italian Lake would like to raise another $5,000 to finish the project, which would include an overhead fan, an improved sound system and the refinishing of the concrete stage.
“I’m just so glad that this pavilion has been built,” she said. “Now, people can perform despite the rain.”
Mayor Eric Papenfuse said that the city would like to see additional improvements to the park, such as the rehabilitation of the bench seating and the restoration and reopening of the restrooms.
“This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a greater upgrade of the park,” he said.
Papenfuse also praised the cooperation of so many groups that were part of raising money for the pavilion project.
“What is exciting is that it represents the best of public/private partnerships,” he said.