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Short-Term Solutions to Long-Standing Civic Theatre Issue

CIVIC THEATRE CITY COUNCIL.jpg

It's been almost nine months since the City of Lewiston took over ownership of the Lewiston Civic Theatre building, and over a year since the building and surrounding sidewalk was shut down.

On Monday, the city council took steps to remedy one of those situations.

While the fate of the historic building is still uncertain, the city council did approve funding some short-term repairs.

But that decision came with heated debate, with some calling it "throwing good money at bad."

Councilor Ged Randall says, "My position still is tear the dang thing down and get it over with. You're not going to get it sold on the internet. As far as I'm concerned, it's a waste of money."

The repairs will happen, after Lewiston's city council voted 5-2 to fund short-term maintenance on the theatre. But the decision didn't come without questions.

Councilor Bob Blakey asks, "What have we done in the last nine months to promote getting it off our hands? Have we provided surplus in an attempt to find a price tag, attempt to find any price tag for it?"

On Monday, the city council set aside $25,000 from their contingency fund to repair six spots in the theatre's roof, board up stained glass windows, and provide a covered walkway for pedestrians.

City manager Jim Bennett adds, "In order to open up the sidewalk on 8th Street and again on 6th Avenue as well."

One point of contention for councilor Bob Blakey - the fact that nearly $39,500 was used last year to stabilize the once-condemned structure.

Blakey says, "You're not asking us to approve another $25,000..."

Jim Bennett interjects, "Yes, we are."

Mayor Jim Kleeburg says these repairs, while short-term, are needed if the city wants to sell the building. While talk of posting the historic structure on Craigslist earned chuckles, Blakey says at least that's a solution.

Blakey says, "We need to, as a council, talk about what the next step is. And we're not doing that. We're just letting it go. We need to start talking about what is the next step."

There was also talk of discussing future, long-term options for the building in a work session. No final decision was reached on that matter.

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