Park Theatre timeline in jeopardy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
TimelineMarch 2006: Park Theatre land purchased by the Park Theatre Inc.December 2013: Old building torn downApril 12, 2016: Planning Board approves Park Theatre’s proposed renovations, sets condition precedent for theatre to come to agreement with abutte

Construction on the Park Theatre may be stalled this year, unless the theater representatives can come to an agreement with the building’s abutter and raise another $280,000. 

Park Theatre CEO and Managing Director Steve Jackson said in a phone interview Monday that theater representatives and abutting building owners Cathy and Richard Furze of We Serve Him, LLC have agreed to mediation in an effort to come to a resolution. The two sides have been working to come to an agreement for at least the past year, according to documents obtained by the Ledger-Transcript.

“Please ask your clients to ratify this agreement very soon,” said the Park Theatre’s attorney, Thomas R. Hanna, in an April 11 letter to attorney Silas Little, who is representing We Serve Him, LLC. “Frankly, the project is in jeopardy because of the delays in satisfying Mr. and Mrs. Furze.”

The crux of the issue is potential impacts the Park Theatre building could have on a second -floor apartment a nearby building, which also houses Country Bridals and Formal Wear. Emergency egresses, as well as lighting and airflow to the apartment have all been discussed as impacts that would need to be mitigated.

The agreement between the Park Theatre and We Serve Him, LLC is a condition precedent set forth by the Planning Board during the approval of renovations to the project on April 12, 2016. 

The Park Theatre recently requested a compliance hearing in front of the Planning Board — with Hanna arguing in a May 4 letter to the board that “the basic premise is missing from the wording of the board’s condition precedent” — but the board decided not to hold such a hearing. 

“We’ve come to the decision that we’re not going to have a hearing tonight on that matter,” said board chair Tim Gordon, in a recording of the May 9 Planning Board meeting. “The finding of the Planning Board of the original decision is considered final at this point so were not going to be hearing it.”

Gordon elected not to comment on the matter when asked questions in a follow-up phone interview, referring the Ledger-Transcript to the draft Planning Board meeting minutes. 

Final fundraising

While the agreement represents one of the final major steps to begin construction, Jackson admitted that more needs to be done on the theater’s end.

The other remaining components include finalizing easements to bring utilities to the building and raising an additional $280,000 to complete the theater’s $5 million capital campaign. 

Jackson said a “self-imposed” target date of June 30 has been set to get everything buttoned up. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in the fall, according to Jackson. 

“We can’t keep running the clock on this,” said Jackson, in a follow-up interview Wednesday afternoon. “We can’t wait through another winter.”

Coming to an agreement

Prior to the May 9 meeting, Hanna had sent an email to the town’s planning department and to attorney Little. The email contained nine letters detailing some of the back-and-forth between the two sides. 

In total, the submitted letters showed five proposals for an agreement, the first being sent by Hanna on July 1, 2016 and the most recent being sent by Little on April 28, 2017. After Hanna’s first submitted proposal, there were two revised proposals submitted by each party. 

Of the letters submitted by Hanna, his most recent proposal — dated April 11 — would have the Park Theatre pay to install a sprinkler system with water supply to consist of two 200-gallon poly water storage tanks, one Solatube (a skylight system) to provide daytime illumination to the bedroom of the second-floor apartment, and an energy recovery ventilation system to provide ventilation to the second-floor bedroom, among other things. 

In Little’s response on April 28, he set forth an agreement that would have the Park Theatre pay for the following: a sprinkler system for the second floor which will be tied into town water, installation of two Solatubes to provide natural lighting due to the bedroom, and an air exchange system to provide ventilation to the bedroom. 

The agreement also asks for the Park Theatre to post a corporate surety bond, something the Park Theatre has been against in previous letters, have all plans developed by the Park Theatre and approved by We Serve Him and the town, and installation of the Solatubes to be done this summer before the building’s roof is redone.