AUBURN — Community Little Theatre has a plan to take over and renovate the Great Falls Performing Arts Center but would like the city to agree to terms before moving forward, according to a letter to city councilors.
Tom Peters, vice chairman of the CLT Board of Directors, said the group could begin formally taking over the building in January if city councilors agree.
"We don't want this thing to drag out," Peters said Thursday. "We're trying to do what we can to move this all along. We know the City Council has made a decision about the building, but we do have some ideas."
Councilors voted Nov. 15 to move all 12 tenants out of the building in May and demolish it in June.
The CLT Board of Directors said Saturday it would make a proposal to the city to take over the building to keep it from being demolished.
The group sent a letter to Mayor Dick Gleason, the City Council and City Manager Glenn Aho on Wednesday, detailing the steps it wants the city to take.
According to the letter, the group would take over the building and all surrounding land for $1 as long as certain conditions were met. First, the city needs to catalog all building code violations at the old school. Peters said the theater group would like that report within 15 days.
"We don't think the building is in as bad of shape as has been assumed," Peters said. "We know there are problems with the heat, but we believe that most of the bigger code violations have been taken care of over the years. But no matter what, we'd like to know we're not surprised by something."
Next, the theater group is requesting that the city provide a formal letter explaining the city's intent to sell, stating that the city would give it time to fix the code violations.
"Then we'd work to cocoon the space for the winter," Peters said. "We might even be able to do something to help the other tenants, as well. Then we'll go to the local financial institutes to see if we can make something work and if we can, we'd be back to the city within 30 days."
In the letter, the theater group asked for a closed-door session with councilors to explain the group's plans for the building.
Meanwhile, councilors are scheduled to discuss the current deed on the property at their meeting Monday. City Manager Aho said councilors must decide whether they want to research legal limits on how the land can be used.
The original deed on the land, dating to 1874, donates the land to the city from the Edward Little Institute as long as it is used as home to Edward Little High School. That was updated in 1961, letting the city use the building and grounds for other municipal purposes.