The Sterling Theater will receive some funding from the city of Pataskala to map out how public restrooms and handicap access could be added to the venue.
Pataskala City Council on Dec. 16 voted unanimously to spend up to $8,500 and employ an architect to design public restrooms and placement of an elevator.
The theater is on the second floor of the two-story building at 430 S. Main St. The Pataskala Division of Police is based on the first floor.
Built in 1916, the structure initially was used as a municipal building. It still is owned by the city.
Eric Fischer, the city's planning director, said the restrooms and elevator would not be installed unless sufficient funding is identified.
But, he said, city officials want to have a design in place to prevent improvements that don't work.
"Since we are limited on space, we don't want to put restrooms in and then have to tear them out to put an elevator in," Fischer said.
The city has applied for a $200,000 grant through the state Capital Bill, which will be debated in 2014, according to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's website.
The Capital Bill typically includes $100 million for community projects that "must have a direct link to a state governmental organization" and must be used for "capital projects, not operation," the website says.
In the application to the state, Fischer estimated installation of restrooms and an elevator to cost $800,000.
The application said Historic Pataskala Town Hall, which leases the theater, would contribute $25,000 to $50,000 for an air-conditioning system.
City Council President Dan Hayes said when the city upgraded the heating and cooling system for the police department several years ago, it did not include air conditioning in the theater. But after mentioning the temperatures during summer performances, Hayes said, "in retrospect, perhaps we should have."
City Councilman Mike Fox on Dec. 16 questioned taking money away from the police or road projects.
Hayes said the city has been careful to fund building improvements that benefit the police department.
Earlier this year, City Council agreed to spend $180,000 to replace the roof on the building. That work is expected to conclude this month.
Hayes said the roof had to be replaced to keep the police department in the facility.
Hayes said the building could have become more of a liability if the city had abandoned it completely after city administrative offices moved to the current Pataskala City Hall building on Broad Street.
The theater had fallen into disrepair over the years but in 2010, volunteers raised money to repair it.
Mayor Steve Butcher said volunteers donated labor and the city addressed public-safety issues, repairing the ceiling and installing emergency lighting.
Butcher said the city contributed $10,000 and the community donated $30,000 to purchase new windows. Volunteers completed many of the renovations, he said.
Butcher said the nonprofit Historic Pataskala Town Hall makes improvements to the theater in lieu of a lease payment. Improvements are dedicated to the city and become part of its property assets, he said.
City Council on Nov. 18 unanimously approved a three-year lease renewal for Historic Pataskala Town Hall.
The organization also schedules programming at the theater.