I support the revitalizing of the Shakespeare theater without impacting Stratford taxpayers. My words are not to undermine the Shakespeare sub-committee, who are very talented people and respected immensely. I agree with the subcommittee’s work to create a non-profit entity to support the theater. It is essential and should continue regardless of whichever theater development company is selected.
However, I do not agree that the Town Council should spend Stratford tax dollars to hire an architect to secure the theater without a comprehensive plan to fully open the theater. This would be bonded money and must be paid back with taxpayer’s dollars. Why embrace a piecemeal plan that may disqualify work from state funding when there are alternatives?
Per the original request for proposals, securing the building was included and funded through the bidder’s proposal without Stratford tax dollars or liability. A remediation proposal from “another” hired architect is unnecessary. We spend so much money on people for redundant work. Securing the theater from weather, animals, up to a full abatement for hazard materials was already documented, funded, and submitted by Elm Street Theater and Stratford Stage Group. Plus, I am concerned that town, rather than the developer, would be responsible for any potential legal claims in the future.
The state will reimburse up to 70% of repairs and abatement in tax credits if it is part of a comprehensive single project to open the theater for performances. That is what we all want – to open the theater. Even if you question the viability of tax credits, the town representatives have a responsibility to vet the Elm Street proposal as the second bidder especially if there is a chance to save taxpayers money.
I ask Ms. Daponte and the Shakespeare sub-committee to immediately re-issue the original RFP (minus any commercial development) with a 30-day window for return bids. There is no reason why the Sub-committee cannot continue to form a non-profit entity and become an advisory board simultaneously as a comprehensive RFP is pursued.