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Fulfilling vision takes sacrifice

When you start down the path of bringing a vision to life, it’s hard to know at the outset just how it will go, how long it will take to realize and what side roads it may lead you down. But for the people who have worked tirelessly for close to eight years to reopen Jaffrey’s historic Park Theatre, patience and fortitude have brought them to what seems like the light at the end of the tunnel.

Just $100,000 stands between Park Theatre trustees and the demolition work that will pave the way for the start of construction of a brand new theater in the Art Deco style in spring 2014. Sadly, the first plan, which would have restored the 1920s vaudeville throwback, would cost too much, trustees have decided. Between $250,000 and $500,000 more, they estimate. But they aren’t letting that stop progress on what’s planned to be a regional theater destination.

Instead, the trustees plan to tear down the building and put up a brand new facility, one that residents of Jaffrey can be sure will hold up in the years ahead. Despite what President of the Board of Trustees Caroline Hollister describes as “heartbreak” over losing the building — a place many Jaffrey residents have said they remember as the place they saw their first movie or enjoyed their first kiss — the show is going on.

We applaud the trustees for making the tough call that will ultimately help to ensure the solvency of this project. No one will enjoy seeing the building come down this fall, but it’s a sacrifice trustees are willing to make, in the hopes of realizing the greater aspiration of restoring a theater to the town’s downtown — a facility it is hoped that will enrich the lives of current and future generations, and will mean financial development for the Main Street business community.

But trustees aren’t letting everything about the old theater go. The theater’s pre-World War II style, featuring bold geometric shapes and colors, as well as high ornamentation, won’t be left behind, trustees say. They also plan to keep memorabilia left by the theater’s founder, Romulo Vanni, and other historical artifacts.

It won’t be easy to see the bricks and mortar, so to speak, of Vanni’s life’s work brought down, but it won’t have been done in vein. The trustees and other stakeholders can take comfort in knowing that that place in the heart of downtown will continue to be a home for artists and for art lovers, a place where people can come together to appreciate the creativity of others.

And in the end, when all is said and done, when the new Park Theatre sits on Main Street, it will be the pride of Jaffrey and, we dare say, the region.

In the months ahead, though, trustees have a big hurdle: They need to raise $100,000 more in order to begin demolition. Giving to this worthy endeavor is an investment in the region’s arts community and financial future. For when one town succeeds, the others benefit.

It’s time to dig deep, and show Park Theatre trustees just how much we care about the arts.

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