Though plans were in motion to stage a production this month at -- the first in decades -- health and safety inspection findings released today present a big hurdle for that to happen any time soon.
It was about a month ago when Mayor John A. Harkins, citing public health problems, on the Elm Street theatre and all keys returned to public works.
Health and safety inspections followed (the results of which are included below) and now there's an estimated cost to bring the long-shuttered theatre into code compliance for public viewing: $377,000.
"There are clearly some significant issues with getting the theatre into operation in the very near term," Harkins said in a statement. "As has been my stance in the past, I will not approve taxpayer dollars to be spent on getting the theatre open."
At about the same time the mayor ordered the lockout on the theatre, a consulting group hired by the town to draft options for the theatre's future presented its findings to residents and town officials. The all relied heavily on an energized fundraising campaign.
"The current study being conducted with regard to the viability of a theatre in Stratford does suggest a non-profit organization be created to raise private monies to be used on the theatre," Harkins said. "I strongly suggest the volunteers pursue that path forward."
After he was told to return his key to the town's public works director, Councilman Matt Catalano (R-3), for the theatre's rebirth, sent a letter to Mayor Harkins in which he asked why the lockout was ordered.
"For the last two years a large number of volunteers, including myself, have been engaged in the work of cleaning our theatre, which sat filled with garbage from the time we took title in 2005 until we took office in 2009," Catalano wrote.
"Since then, volunteers have selflessly given of themselves to do this work and made great strides in returning the theatre to a state that would allow us to mount a production this May, for students from Stratford and the surrounding area."
In a response to Catalano, Harkins wrote, "I'd also like to take this opportunity to offer a 'thank you' to all the volunteers who have been working on cleaning up the theatre. It is my duty as mayor of the town of Stratford to protect the town's property, and to assure for the public health and safety of our residents."
The health and safety inspection findings:
- The presence of mold was seen in areas the building.
- Proper air quality tests need to be conducted by an outside vendor, estimated to cost approximately $2,500.
- No signs of lead-based paint were found.
- The fire alarm system shall be completely gone through and certified for operation for theatre application.
- The sprinkler system shall be inspected by qualified person or company and certified as being operational.
- Water supply for fire hydrants located on the property must be in working order.
- Proper illumination of exit signs shall be provided.
- Proper lighting for the areas being used as well as emergency lighting shall be provided.
- A code compliant electrical supply shall be provided to energize all required theatre lighting and power needs. As well as all required general lighting, required exit signage and emergency lighting.
- A code compliant ventilation system shall be provided to all occupied sections of the building or proof of code compliant natural ventilation shall be provided.
- Plumbing fixtures shall be provided for the number of occupants.
- An inspection on April 20, 2012 revealed kraft faced insulation had been installed in the roof system without being properly covered by approved building material.
- A plan shall be submitted and approved prior to occupying the structure