The Auburn City Council took a sticky problem and guess what?
They solved it.
Politely. Logically. Cooperatively.
Key Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” please.
This has happened so rarely over the past two years that it’s worth taking time to recognize the feat.
When councilors first voted in November to tear down the Great Falls School, we thought this story was unlikely to have a happy ending.
The council faced a frightening budget deficit and it could no longer afford to subsidize the building, which is home to the Community Little Theatre and several other arts-related endeavors.
It seemed unlikely the theater group could operate and maintain the entire building. Would it be curtains for the 71-year-old CLT? We wondered.
But theater officials were determined to work through the issues and began negotiating with the city.
The problem was complex. Various covenants on the property prohibited the city from merely giving the building to the theater group. An entire wing of the building was in disrepair
Credit goes to Economic Development Director Roland Miller and Community Little Theatre President Karen Mayo for working through all of the issues.
The deal calls for the council to lease the space to the group for 99 years at $1 per year.
The city will preserve the eastern part of the building, which houses the theater and related spaces for costumes and storage.
The city will also raze the western wing of the building. The estimate for that work is $350,000, something the city would have to have done anyway.
Community Little Theatre will pay for heat, utilities, snowplowing and repairs.
“It took us nine months to get to this point and to accomplish what we have,” Councilor Mike Farrell said.
In the end, the patience and hard work paid off.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.