Hall’s rail project on track

WARREN – The Packard Music Hall handrails project was the recent recipient of a $2,270 door collection and a $2,000 donation from an event of the Warren Civic Music Association held at the hall.

Pat McClean and Elizabeth Cole Clark, project co-coordinators, said the $4,270 donations will help their group install handrails, which will make it safer to navigate the upstairs of the balcony steps.

”It is important that we keep this icon totally functional and safe for the people’s use,” Clark said.

When there are not enough seats on the ground level, people are sent to the balcony. But getting to that level often dangerous for elderly visitors because there is nothing for people to hold onto as they walk up and down the stairs to their seats, Clark said.

McLean said she has watched for years as older residents struggle to walk the balcony stairs as they moved to and from their seats and heard of people falling down.

McLean said there were no American with Disabilities Act regulations that required handrails when the music hall was built, so the hall it is not required to put them in today.

She said the project is being installed at no costs to the city. The city, while the owner, does not have the money to make the improvements.

McClean said due to some unexpected challenges in the design of the music hall, some alterations were required, which increased the final project costs.

Clark and McLean have been working for about 2 1/2 years to get handrails installed in the 58-year-old theater. They began the fundraising effort in September.

They aim to install up to 135 handrails in the upper balcony on the second level. Each rail costs $375.

Last fall, the Women’s Auxiliary at Trumbull Memorial Hospital stepped up with a helping hand for the project donating $10,000, a fifth of the project cost. The auxiliary’s donation was the first major contribution the project received.

Clark had said that Trumbull 100 had pledged $10,000 in a matching grant. That organization is working as the fiscal agent for the project.

Clark said efforts are being made to obtain the remaining $30,000 for the handrails.

Packard Music Hall officials have said the balcony area is open for 80 percent of the programs and safety is important to any visitor.

McLean said anyone can make a donation regardless of the amount for the project. The handrail project is a 501(c) 3 project.

Garda Architectural Fabricators did the railing work.

Individual railings were put in at each step on one side of each stairway.