Licking County News

Theater renovation plans take shape

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Inside the Sterling Theater.

The Sterling Theater board of directors is expected Monday, April 21, to present plans to Pataskala City Council for installing an elevator and restrooms at the theater.

City Council voted unanimously Dec. 16 to spend up to $8,500 and employ an architect to design public restrooms and placement of an elevator in the building at 430 Main St.

The study was completed by Dave Pontia of Pontia Architecture in New Albany.

The theater board met April 1 to review the plans, which were then presented at an April 3 open house.

Board member Rachel Mattis Bissett said an elevator shaft could be built on the northwest side of the building and restrooms could be installed in the basement, which is at ground level.

Pontia Architecture has estimated it could cost $300,000 to install the elevator and restrooms. Adding air conditioning to the theater could add an estimated $70,000 to the project, Mattis Bissett said.

Funding sources for the project have not yet been identified.

Constructed in 1916, the building at 430 Main St. initially was used as a municipal building and still is owned by the city.

The theater on the building's second floor had fallen into disrepair over the years but in 2010, volunteers raised money to repair it. The theater now is used for community events, which include an annual Christmas program, a youth theater project and open microphone sessions.

The Pataskala Division of Police is based on the first floor, which is above ground level. The first floor has restrooms and is air conditioned but it has to be maintained separate from the theater for security purposes.

The police department also uses part of the basement for storage.

Police Chief Bruce Brooks said the improvements will affect the police station but he said opening the theater to more patrons would be positive.

He said some of the improvements potentially could help with the police department's plans for the ground level, which include the addition of a training room, a locker room and a shower.

Brooks said the police want to retain the historic look and character of the building and they hope any addition will not affect the building's aesthetics.

Mattis Bissett said the elevator shaft could be constructed so it would not detract from the character of the building.

It most likely would be built out of concrete but would be covered in brick to match the building's exterior, she said.

The elevator also could have access to the first floor and the police department, she said, but it would have to be limited.

Pontia said the elevator would eliminate three parking spaces on the north side of the building. He is recommending the city designate at least two other parking spaces for ADA parking.

Mattis Bissett said the theater board wants to complete the improvements with the least amount of disturbance to the police as possible.

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