AUBURN – Councilors will get their first look at a possible fix for the aging Great Falls Performing Arts Center on Thursday night.

Councilors are scheduled for a special workshop meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Auburn Hall. Acting City Manager Laurie Smith said she expects councilors to discuss redevelopment plan for the building formally at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

“Thursday is just a chance to get them all together to present some ideas about how we can move that building forward,” Smith said.

Doreen Traynor, executive director for Community Little Theatre, said her group plans to recommend a redevelopment plan for the building at Monday’s meeting.

The city has been meeting with the theatre for several months trying to come up with a way to repair the building.

“This is the council’s first look at what we’ve been talking about,” Smith said.

Negotiations began last May after leaders of the amateur theater company told councilors they were ready to make a financial commitment.

The city took over the 53,000-square-foot building from the School Department in 1997. Several groups, including Community Little Theatre and the Edward Little Drama Club, call the building home. The theatre troupe has used the Great Falls stage for 60 years.

A state fire marshal inspected the building in 2003 and found 74 fire code violations. Some repairs, such as lighting emergency exits and covering exposed wires, were easy. But fire marshals wanted sprinkler and alarm systems installed and called for other structural repairs.

Councilors are reviewing a budget that calls for $245,000 in safety upgrades to the building in the 2007-08 fiscal year. But work would continue through 2012, and that calls for heating system upgrades, new parking lots, new safety exits, an elevator and waterproofing.

All together, the repairs call for $1.9 million through 2012.


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