Good things are happening at the Odeum Theatre on Main Street, but they aren't happening quickly enough to meet the March 31 deadline imposed by both the Town Council and the Fire District Commissioners in January. It looks like a more realistic timetable might be June 1.
Odeum board president Frank Prosnitz told Council members at their meeting Monday night that the theater seats are ready to be shipped back from the Michigan company refurbishing them, and that the ceiling and walls have been completed.
The floor remains unfinished. The plan is for the floor to get a coating of epoxy, a stronger finish than the paint currently there, while the seats are still out. And the board has hired a new contractor, Bowerman Associates of Providence, to complete the work. Prosnitz said Bowerman was a better fit than the contractor originally hired.
"We are trying to get a handle on his time frame," said Prosnitz, noting that Bowerman said it could take 10 weeks.
On Monday, the Council asked Prosnitz to return to their March 26 meeting with a better estimate of the opening. At that time, the Council could entertain extending the deadline for waiving property taxes on the theater. Prior to its closing in 2007, the Odeum had operated as a nonprofit entity. In 2010, the town returned the building to the tax rolls. Since then, the Town Council has granted the Odeum a series of extensions to return to operational status.
Councilman Henry Boezi said he was happy to hear the progress, noting what others left unsaid: that in 2010 it seemed unlikely the theater would be able to get the funding to reopen.
That changed with the award from the Champlin Foundations in December of a $141,600 grant. With that money, the seats were sent out and other work on the theater could be scheduled. Prosnitz said fundraising efforts continue. New board member Kevin Muoio is now in charge of fundraising, Prosnitz said after the meeting. In addition to continuing seat "sales" (in which donor names are added on a plaque to refurbished seats), there are plans afoot for an Odeum golf tournament and a possible "club" affiliation for donors willing to put in $1,000 or more.
"Not everybody wants their names on a seat," said Prosnitz. "We need to have a number of ways people can respond to us."