Council approves plan for work on arts center

Neon for marquee, galleries in design

July 10, 2001|By Melody Holmes | Melody Holmes,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Common Council approved a $1.4 million plan last night to renovate a run-down Main Street theater as a center for the arts, complete with galleries and a 264-seat theater.

Plans for Carroll Arts Center were approved after the Baltimore architecture firm Beck, Powell & Parsons outlined final details of the project.

The renovation plan will give the center "complete flexibility for any kind of performance," Peter Powell of the architecture firm told the council.

The plan includes restoring the building's original art deco marquee, which will be crowned with neon. The 14,000-square-foot facility will include two galleries - one for group shows and a second for solo shows, a 3,000-square-foot second-floor expansion, and a 640-square-foot backstage addition.

"We really think [the arts center] is going to be a hub and a great thing for us," council President Damian L. Halstad said.

The city bought the former Carroll Theater in June last year from Church of the Open Door with $310,000 in state Program Open Space funds allocated by the Carroll commissioners. The city will own and maintain the building, and Carroll County Arts Council will be the sole tenant.

The arts council, established in 1969, has 1,000 members and a $200,000 annual budget. It holds art classes, sponsors shows and trips, and provides grants and scholarships to students and art organizations.

The Common Council also received an update on the status of the arts council's fund-raising campaign. The group has reached its $200,000 goal set in March.

Arts council Director Sandy Oxx said the organization will continue raising funds for lighting and sound equipment necessary for live theater performances at the center. The cost for the equipment is estimated at $120,000, Oxx said.

In other business:

The council voted to apply for $852,000 from Maryland's Community Legacy Program for programs including Locust Lane improve ments, the arts center and a new parking structure. The state has allocated $10 million for neighborhood projects this year. Westminster's application is due by July 24.

The Locust Lane improvements were outlined in a report to the council. The $500,000 plan aims to beautify the area, improve safety and ensure accessibility to those with disabilities.

The council approved a proposal to encourage library officials to open the Westminster library branch from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff proclaimed July as Parks and Recreation Month to encourage residents to participate in outdoor leisure activities.

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