Tautznik seeks match for $50,000 donation to old town hall project in late wife’s memory

  • Contributed Photo Contributed Photo

  • Debra Tautznik Contributed Photo—

  • Former Easthampton mayor and Mayor for Peace Michael Tautznik speaks during a gathering Aug. 6, 2017 at Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton to remember the lives lost from the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Debra and Michael Tautznik are shown in this undated photo.

Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2019 10:56:12 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Michael Tautznik, who served for 17 years as Easthampton’s first mayor, said a number of people have asked him how they can remember Debra Tautznik, his late wife.

Now, Tautznik has a way. He and Debra Tautznik’s brother, sister and mother are donating a collective $50,000 in her name to CitySpace to renovate the second floor of the city’s old town hall, and he’s encouraging the community to match the donation.

“This is that opportunity,” said Tautznik.

In June 2015, Debra Tautznik, a local artist and volunteer, died after falling down a flight of stairs in an accident she had while volunteering at the city’s Cultural Chaos festival.

Tautznik said he had been looking for a way to honor his late wife, and that donating in her name to the project seems to be the best way.

“I have chosen to support this project as a memorial to someone who made a difference in my life,” reads a statement Tautznik released through CitySpace.

CitySpace is a nonprofit that’s in charge of managing the old town hall building, and Tautznik serves as its treasurer.

“To honor Deb with the Debra Tautznik Family Fund is truly inspirational and makes us feel she is standing with us as we continue this work for old town hall and Easthampton,” said Burns Maxey, CitySpace’s president, in the same release.

Speaking to the Gazette, Maxey said the community grieved together after Debra Tautznik’s death, and that she was known in both the arts community and the community at large.

“For them to give this donation, it means a lot,” Maxey said, speaking of her family.

While the first floor of the old town hall building is currently rented to tenants, the second floor is not being utilized because it is not accessible to the disabled and up to code.

The planned $6.6 million in renovations would install a black box theater performance space and supporting facilities on the second floor, as well as an elevator that would make every level of the building accessible. It would also involve putting a new heating and cooling system into the building.

“We’ve got a great project,” said Tautznik, who said that more than half of the money needed for the renovation has been raised.

The renovation has a crowdfunding campaign that’s set to culminate on Oct. 19 with the Old Town Hall Ball, a community event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the building. Those in attendance can choose the fashion of any era in which to dress. The ball will start at 7 p.m. and will be in the Eastworks Ballroom. Tickets start at $15, but will rise as the date gets closer. Those interested in them can go online to cityspaceeasthampton.org.

Tautznik said he met his wife, whom he described as “my partner in everything,” in the late 1980s, when she saw him speak at town meeting. Debra Tautznik told a mutual friend that she would like to meet him, and the three met at a restaurant called Early Times.

“We clicked,” said Tautznik.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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