Steel beam drives gazebo stage cost $7,000 higher

Published 4:48 pm Monday, February 13, 2023

The cost of replacing the now-demolished gazebo stage outside The Smithfield Times office has risen by roughly $7,000.

An Isle of Wight County building inspector is requiring the use of a steel beam rather than a wooden one, Tourism Director Judy Winslow confirmed.

Steel prices have risen sharply since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Smithfield’s and Isle of Wight County’s shared tourism department plans to replace the old 23-foot-wide stage with a 37-foot-wide version, which will include a wheelchair ramp and brick path connecting to Hayden’s Lane park. Demolition of the old stage began in late January.

Winslow had announced plans last year to fund the project with a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s DRIVE 2.0 program – a statewide initiative created to make the tourism industry more sustainable amid the pandemic. The Smithfield Town Council voted last April to allocate an additional $15,000 to the project from its then-remaining $3.4 million share of federal American Rescue Plan Act pandemic relief dollars.

Winslow said her office is still working on how to incorporate the overage into the project’s budget. Even with the $7,000 increase, “I think we are going to be in good shape,” Winslow said.

The town acquired The Smithfield Times property in 2019 from Publisher Emeritus John Edwards, and presently leases the office to the newspaper. The stage and lawn outside serve as the home of Smithfield’s Summer Concert Series, which Edwards and his wife, Anne, started decades ago. The concerts now operate as a project of the Isle of Wight Arts League.

As of last year, the goal was to have construction of the new stage complete by May when the town reprises its Arts Fest.