It was two and a half years ago the town first notified the Odeum Corp. it had lost its nonprofit status and taxes were due. The Town Council decided later that same year (2009) the Odeum would not have to pay the taxes if it reopened. Since then, the group has been granted several extensions in its quest to reopen. The latest extension was passed last Monday, July 9, when the Council said the Odeum Corp. now had until Oct. 31 to open or pay the back taxes.
“We seem to be doing this on a regular basis,” said Councilman Mark Gee.
“It seems that we have had some false starts,” said Councilman Jeff Cianciolo. “I recognize there’s been some significant progress [but] every quarter we get another, ‘Hey, we’re almost … ‘ I would just like a realistic assessment of what is happening.”
Odeum board president Frank Prosnitz said Friday he shares the Council’s frustration.
“This whole process has taken longer than anticipated,” he said. But Prosnitz also pointed to other rehabilitated theaters in the state, like the Park Theatre in Cranston and Woonsocket’s Stadium. Both took six to seven years to open, he said.
“We have just had some builders that have not worked out,” said Prosnitz. He said the recent hiring of Bill Brackett, former Providence Performing Arts Center technical director, should help get things done in a timely manner.
“He’ll be serving as the liaison between the contractor and the board,” Prosnitz said.
Prosnitz acknowledged he was overly optimistic early on. “First of all, I’m an optimist, that’s my personality,” he said. “We knew the timeframe for the seats. I underestimated the other work."
He said he expected too much from volunteers, many of whom "overestimated what they could do."
Brackett will fill in those roles, Prosnitz said. "The concluding work is not earth shattering."
Because of that, he said, the Oct. 31 deadline "should be a realistic date."