By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
After eight months of talks and the frustrations of working outdoors, the Depot Theatre has a new place to create stage sets, thanks to a $1- a-year lease granting access to the old Garrison Volunteer Fire Company building on Upper Station Road.
At its monthly meeting last Thursday (Sept. 2), the Philipstown Town Board authorized Supervisor Richard Shea to sign the lease with the GVFC on behalf of the town. Along with Philipstown Performing Arts Inc. (PPA), the Philipstown Recreation Department operates the theater, located about one-third of a mile from the fire station. “I’ve already gotten the keys,” Claudio Marzollo, chairman of the PPA board, told Philipstown.info on Sunday afternoon. “They’re not using it, but by letting us [in], it’s being used for the community,” he said. “We’ve been building sets outside on the plaza, getting rained on.” Having to work outdoors at the Depot Theatre plaza, near the Garrison Metro North railroad station, also meant having to bring everything back inside when quitting for the day, only to haul it all back outside again to resume, he said.
“The Depot Theatre was in desperate need of an enclosed location to build and store sets for the various performances, which have become more and more numerous and popular over the years,” GVFC Treasurer John Svirsky said Sunday in an e-mail to Philipstown.info. “The GVFC board was more than happy to help on a temporary basis.” He cautioned the situation could change at some point. “The station is not being used at the moment, but during inclement weather vehicles are stored there to serve the western part of the district. Over the years snow, ice and trees falling have prevented vehicles from going down [Route] 403 or Snake Hill Road; maintaining truck(s) there has proved successful.” And given the dynamic of the Route 9D corridor, home to the Garrison Institute, Recreation Department programs, Hastings Institute, St. Basil Academy, and others, “future chiefs might decide to house a fire vehicle(s) there as well as at the main location on Route 9, known as Station 2,” Svirsky explained.
Garrison resident Joe Regele, a close scrutinizer of GVFC finances, applauded the cooperation. “The Upper Station Road space is under-utilized and a perfect venue for the PPA to use,” he said on Saturday. “The GVFC is doing the right thing here.” Paying the cost of the lease was easy. “We’re splitting it,” Marzollo said of himself and Svirsky. “I gave him half a buck” already.
At the Town Board meeting, Marzollo pointed out that the deal couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, with the Depot Theatre preparing for “Three Penny Opera,” which opens in October. “I think it’s very public-spirited of the Garrison fire department to make this space available,” he told the Town Board. “This has been a topic of conversation for a long time,” Councilman John Van Tassel said. “It’s finally ended in a great outcome.”
Or, as Shea put it, “this play has a happy ending!”