08/09/06 — Councilmen weigh in on theater plan

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Councilmen weigh in on theater plan

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 9, 2006 1:51 PM

Now that a "doable" Paramount plan is in the city's hands -- compliments of Goldsboro native and businessman David Weil and his "ad hoc committee" -- some City Council members said it's time to find funding for the project.

At the end of Monday's meeting, the six members of the council and Mayor Al King took turns thanking Weil for his pursuit of a feasible and practical plan for a new theater on Center Street. Tuesday, the same men discussed their take on his presentation and the future of the now $5 million undertaking.

Jimmy Bryan, District 1, called Weil's plan "excellent" and "workable," despite funding questions that still linger inside City Hall.

"My reaction was it's good," he said. "This plan is more in a price range we can deal with."

And while he believes the finished product, if approved, will be more understated than the previous $12 million plan discussed by the Paramount Reconstruction Committee, it will still serve the residents well, Bryan said.

"It's not as big as the original idea, but still I think it's a very workable, good project," he said. "(The theater) is still going to be what it was and more."

Chuck Allen, District 5 representative and chairman of the reconstruction committee, agreed with Bryan that the plan, while good, is much different than the 30,000-square-foot proposal shelved in May.

"It's a totally different program," he said. "But I think at $5 million, it's our job now to find out how we can do it. I think that's our job -- to take what (Weil) has done and run with it."

Bryan added he supports Weil's plan and hopes to see it come to fruition soon.

"I support (the Paramount) because it's downtown, and I feel like it's something we need," he said. "The arts are very important, the theater was used a lot, and I think every community needs a theater for kids. I think you will find that most towns our size have one."

District 2 Councilman Bob Waller also supports reconstruction efforts, he said.

"I think it's important," Waller said. "It's one of the amenities that we hope we can provide for the citizens."

An amenity he and the other council members are committed to pursuing now that a practical plan is complete, he added.

"We're going to try to figure out how to do this thing," Waller said. "I think there's some hope here."

Donnie Chatman, District 3, said Weil's plan -- and more specifically its price tag -- provided that hope.

"I think the price that was worked out with the architects and contractors was great," he said. "It's about half of what we got from the last group. And the plan is closer to what we were thinking in the beginning. I really can't express how I feel about what Mr. Weil did. Very few people would go out and do what he did."

Chatman added until serious discussions are held and funding sources are researched, a decision on the future of the Paramount won't come down.

"At this point we really haven't decided, or discussed in depth where we're going to go with (the project)," he said.

Jackie Warrick, District 6, agreed.

"It's too early to tell," he said. "(Weil) has put together a doable plan. Now we just have to figure out how to fund it."

Still, Waller said, the once dim outlook for the Paramount brightened with Weil's presentation Monday. In the end, he believes the project will be approved, he added.

"I think it will be a positive vote and that there will be some ways that we'll be able to fund this thing," he said. "I hope so."

King took Waller's thoughts a bit further, saying "there's no doubt," that the council will approve construction of a new Paramount.

"As far as I'm concerned, I don't think there is any opposition," he said. "We're gonna go."

District 4 representative, the Rev. Charles Williams, was not available for comment by press time.