Highland News Leader

Treehouse preliminary agreement approved

The early stage concept for the new project location that will be on the banks of Old City Lake.

The Highland Arts Council has the green-light to start surveying Silver Lake Park for its new proposed Treehouse Art Gallery location.

At the Highland City Council meeting March 20, the council approved a preliminary agreement that allows the HAC to scout out the shores of Old City Lake for the project’s home.

The HAC has been planning the gallery for a couple of years. The building will house exhibits, music, performances, workshops, art classes and there is talk of an outdoor theater.

“We feel this could be the hook to bring people into the city,” said Lynnette Schuepbach, president of the HAC.

The attraction was originally set to be at Lindendale Park. But the HAC recently decided to pursue a new location after realizing the park did not fit its plan. The change put the HAC in a bind, considering that funds given to the group by the National Endowment for the Arts require a design before the end of 2017 or the grant would be rescinded. And, without a suitable location the project architect, Dan Hurford, could not start designing.

Schuepbach and Hurford presented their idea at a council meeting in February, where they found support and a preliminary agreement.

“Highland Arts Council is excited to have the support of the Council in creating a space for the arts,” Schuepbach said. “This initial step gives us the space so that the NEA grant will not be wasted.”

While the approved agreement is not a lease, it states the council will explore a lease once the HAC finds a suitable location and resolves regulatory issues.

Schuepbach said the HAC will be working closely with city staff to make sure the location is compliant with regulations. She noted while regulations are a top priority, the aesthetics of the project are also important.

“We love the space surrounding the Silver Lake and want to keep it as pristine as we can while still giving us a useful building,” Schuepbach said.

Once the group is done finding a location, the next hurdle will not be the build itself, it will be funding the project. The construction is expected to cost about $1.3 million, which will come straight out of the HAC’s pocket.

“We hope that the philanthropic people of Highland will get on board to bring the arts to the city,” Schuepbach said.

Schuepbach also said the arts council will “gladly honor philanthropic people with nameplates on rooms, furniture, or kitchen.”

The HAC will be hosting its second Art Affair April 8, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Lindendale Park Ballroom as a Treehouse fundraising event. The theme of the event is “Jazz in the Garden,” where there will be food, drinks, entertainment and a silent auction.

To learn more about the fundraiser or to RSVP to the event visit either the HAC website or the Facebook event. Schuepbach said everyone and anyone is welcome and encouraged to join.