03/30/06 — A final bow: Theater committee’s decision leaves only the memories

View Archive

A final bow: Theater committee’s decision leaves only the memories

Sometimes one of the hardest decisions to make as a public official is knowing when it is time to pull the plug on a project.

So, to say that the members of the Goldsboro City Council who serve on the Paramount Reconstruction Committee did right by their city Wednesday morning under more than a little pressure is not overly stated.

The committee, which includes other members of the community as well, decided that it was time to stop talking about and planning for a project that the city had no real hope of funding — the reconstruction of the Paramount Theater, which burned down more than a year ago.

They did not send the Paramount project to its final curtain call lightly. This is after months of trying to find funding, trying to raise private interest and trying to explore alternatives that would allow the city to rebuild the historic theater.

All to no avail.

The Paramount Theater is a beautiful memory for many Wayne County residents. There are plenty of love stories that started in the Paramount as well as scores of childhood memories of cherished trips to the theater with a long-ago-lost mother or father.

So, it is understandable that preserving the memories by rebuilding the theater would be a passionate cause for many.

But the problem is that there simply is not enough money to recreate the theater or to do the project justice without some other sort of financial assistance. Not too many governments or taxpayers have an extra $12 million hanging around with nothing to do these days.

And besides that, there is no real way to recreate the Paramount. A new theater could never replicate the historic building. It would be a new theater with many of the modern improvements that go along with newer construction and little of the character that made the Paramount the Paramount. So, planning more carefully and incorporating multiple needs into one, new project like a community auditorium would make more sense rather than simply replacing the building.

There still might be a replacement for the Paramount some day. Maybe a kind donor will come along or there will be a little extra money in the city coffers that could be earmarked for the project. The committee would gladly get back to work if that day came.

But in the meantime, it is time to move on, to think about other priorities and to think about making a tribute to the theater a permanent part of the Wayne County Museum. Photos, stories and memorabilia would make sure that the memories stayed even if the building is gone.

The Paramount Committee could not have had an easy time with this decision.

But it was definitely the right — and brave — one.

Published in Editorials on March 30, 2006 9:47 AM