03/06/06 — Intermezzo: Take time to reflect before theater project’s next act

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Intermezzo: Take time to reflect before theater project’s next act

The Paramount Theater Committee is already looking at options — and costs — for rebuilding the historic theater downtown.

And some of the members have even suggested an interesting, albeit somewhat problematic, option — closing Goldsboro High School and using that space for a performing arts center.

Setting aside the community concerns that such a move might raise, the idea of looking at other options for a reconstructed theater — or perhaps combining the project with a community center or other building for public use — is an interesting one.

And it is good to know that the Paramount Committee — and the city leadership — seem to be considering all of them.

But the reality is there are few people who do not have an opinion on the future of the Paramount — and there doesn’t seem to be a vocal consensus one way or the other, or any ideas on where to go next.

Although a beloved landmark, some say the original theater is gone and cannot be recreated because of cost and location. They say it is time to remember the past, but to move forward into a bigger, better facility in a location that is more conducive to community use.

That’s an interesting idea — especially if it is coupled with a location near Wayne Community College or other large open area that would allow more parking and more opportunities to create a more versatile facility.

Others see the Paramount reconstruction as the cornerstone for a downtown renaissance of sorts. They want to see a theater rebuilt to its original glory, with a few extras that will bring new acts and new life downtown. They think the community landmark should not be lost to the ashes and should instead be rebuilt as a tribute of sorts to the arts and the history of the community.

And they have a point, too. Without something, downtown Goldsboro is in danger. A new theater, when combined with other improvements and economic development incentives, could bring more people to the city to enjoy their community’s history. That in itself might be worth thinking about a little harder.

No matter which side of the fence you choose, the Paramount project is not going to be cheap. The theater reconstruction is estimated at more than $10 million, and who knows how much a community center built near the college or any of the other options proposed would cost. And like it or not, money is an issue to consider here.

It is time for the community to weigh in with ideas, dialogue and priorities. With a lot of minds thinking about possibilities, who knows, the perfect plan for the Paramount might be just a few clicks or pen scratches away.

We’ll be asking you soon to weigh in — probably online or by mail. Watch for the announcement. In the meantime, think about this: If it were your decision, what would you do, and what would you be willing to pay for?

We will look forward to hearing what you think.

Published in Editorials on March 6, 2006 10:46 AM