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Jaffrey’s Park Theatre gets OK to expand 2nd floor

  • Jack Belletete, a design and building advisor, presented the Park Theatre’s second floor expansion plans to the Jaffrey Zoning Board on March 5.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey's Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews proposed renovation plans for the Park Theatre on Main Street.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey's Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews proposed renovation plans for the Park Theatre on Main Street.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey's Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews proposed renovation plans for the Park Theatre on Main Street.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey's Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews proposed renovation plans for the Park Theatre on Main Street.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

JAFFREY — Having overcome a zoning hurdle, the Park Theatre is one step closer to its opening day, which will come following an extensive renovation plan tentatively scheduled to begin this summer.

So far, the Park Theatre’s Board of Trustees has raised $450,000 towards the project and is continuing its fundraising efforts with the goal of raising an additional $1.5 million, said Board President Caroline Hollister on Sunday. Ideally, renovation of the Park Theatre will begin this summer, Hollister said, but first the Board of Trustees must get the approval of town planners.

Representatives of the theater met with the Planning Board in November 2012, but town officials asked the applicant to return at a later date with the required variances from the Zoning Board, as well as a detailed architectural rendering of the project and a comprehensive mitigation plan for the removal of hazardous materials. The board plans to resubmit its architectural drawings to the town by March 19, Hollister said Sunday, adding that if all goes well her board will appear before the Planning Board in April.

After a site visit Thursday afternoon, the Zoning Board approved a proposal to expand the second floor of the Park Theatre, a non-conforming structure, to the edges of the lot line. The variance permits the construction of a structure within the required side and rear setbacks of 15 feet.

At the Zoning Board’s meeting on March 5, two days prior to the site walk, Jack Belletete — a design and building advisor to the Park Theatre — presented the plans to expand the theater’s second floor and also provide an alternate emergency escape to Main Street for apartments located above Country Bridal and Formal Wear. Currently, he said those tenants’ means of escape is through existing apartment windows and onto the theater’s roof. The theater’s proposal adds a new exterior stairway in that area that could be used by both tenants and guests of the theater in an emergency.

Abutter Cathy Furze, who owns Country Bridals at 17 Main St., said at the meeting that she supports the Park Theatre and believes it will be great for downtown, but added that she is concerned about the impact to her tenants. The proposed emergency egress would enclose windows where her tenants currently have air conditioners positioned, Furze said, and would likely infringe upon their privacy.

Hollister responded to Furze’s concerns, saying that the exit would be accessible only to those trying to escape the theater during an emergency. The door, she added, would have a built-in alarm to deter people from using that exit on a routine basis. If the Fire Marshal orders the theater to enclose the egress, Hollister said the theater would pay to have interior cooling units installed in Furze’s apartments.

In an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Sunday, Hollister said that if the Planning Board approves the proposed site plan for renovations in April or May, Hollister said the Board of Trustees will be on target to meet upcoming construction deadlines. Mitigation work to dispose of hazardous asbestos and lead paint found at the theater may be completed in May, which would be followed by demolition of parts of the theater in June or July, she said. At a meeting of the Board of Trustees on Monday morning, Hollister said the trustees chose to contract with Hutter Construction of New Ipswich for the construction work.

Concerns from abutters and town officials in November about how the town will accommodate an increased demand for parking spaces downtown and how traffic would be impacted by construction may surface again when the project goes before the Planning Board. The Park Theatre property sits near the corner of state highway Route 202, and Main Street, as well as Route 137.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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