Plans for Park Theatre renovation were presented to the public Monday night. The showing generated considerable interest from those in attendance.
“We are here to see more in regard to the city’s plans for Park Theatre,” said local resident Craig Sinks.
His wife, Ginger, added, “We are in favor of the project. We would like it to be done.”
The two are city residents, but have no sentimental attachment to Park Theatre.
“We’ve never been to the theater,” said Ginger. “We just think this would be a wonderful thing to have here.”
Craig added, “If it can be done at a reasonable cost.”
Cost, as well as the plans for renovation, were what drew Valerie Wells to the meeting.
“I think the city should do the construction in stages,” said Wells. “Do what you have to do, like the stage and auditorium, to get revenue going. Then, do more of the project. I don’t feel like it should all be done at the same time. I’m for doing things as you go.”
Wells says despite her reservations how renovation should be done, she is in favor of the project.
“I didn’t mean to give you the idea that I wasn’t in favor of the it,” she said. “I will be voting for the project in November. I think this is something the city should do. I’m just in favor of doing it in stages.”
Giving a presentation of the plans was Peter Metts of AEI Architects and Engineers in Cookeville.
“With projects like this, you take what you have and what you will attract and try to find a happy spot between the two,” said Metts. “We think we have found the happy spot.”
In order to take what was a theater only and make it into a multi-use facility, the architects recommend adding dressing rooms behind the stage and making some of the auditorium seats removable.
“The dressing area behind the stage is an addition,” said Metts. “If plays are held there, a dressing area will be needed.”
In the auditorium, the originally sloped floor down to the stage will be exchanged for three tiers. The first two tiers, those furthest from the stage, will have removable seats so tables can be placed when the facility is being used for something other than a play or show, such as banquets, reunions, etc.
“The third level’s seats will be fixed,” said Metts.
As individuals enter the lobby, concessions will be located to the right and bathrooms to the left. The original theater had the concessions to the left.
“We reconfigured the lobby to make it more efficient and to make it as big as possible,” said Metts. “Concessions will be snacks only.”
Metts recommended the balcony have additional seating, with chairs toward the front and tables toward the back. However, that work is not included in the current project.
“The balcony will be cleaned in the current scope of work,” Metts said. “The seating and furnishings are not. That project will be bid out.”
Between the stage and the first row of seats in the auditorium there is 10 feet, to which an audience member pointed would not be enough room for an orchestra to set up.
While Metts recommended the removal of the third tier and pushing the seats back to make room for an orchestra, an idea from the audience suggested making the first two rows of seats removable as well.
When questioned about the medallions that have been partially destroyed and renovating building’s facade, Metts says the medallions will be fixed and the facade depends on what’s there when work begins.
“Our intent is to bring Park Theatre back to its original appearance, as much as we can,” Metts said. “The medallions that were damaged will be fixed. We don’t know about the front of the building. If what’s behind it right now is salvageable, we will save it. We won’t know until we start construction.”
Renovation would take between 12 and 18 months.