So what's the scenario of this movie "Save the Varsity"? Well, Mayor Brad Cole has a pile of documents on his desk...sorry i didn't snap a photo...including his handwritten notes from the meeting, as well as emails and letters from people who did not attend the meeting...."Demolish it" some said..."Don't close it" said others. The future of the Varsity Theater will occur somewhere in between those two extremes. But Brad isn't committed one way or the other to its being a motion picture venue (at least part of the time....), while some city residents feel very strongly that it should be. The Mayor's approach is "how can the city help Kerasotes divest itself of this property in a manner most beneficial to both sides." Those weren't Cole's words, but that was the impression I got. He doesn't have the answers right now, but is open to solution.. So if anybody wants to keep the spirit of The Varsity (whatever that is) alive, they better get going on a plan. Not just ideas, but a plan to make it happen, because neither the City nor Kerasotes will do it for them--and those seats were sold out of the Liberty Theater faster than it takes to rewind a reel of film. (Not really, but real fast). And the Varsity chairs may wind up that way, if we don't ask them very nicely not to dispose of them quite yet.
The building will be expensive to refurbish and keep up, including heating and air conditioning (Aur Beck, are you reading this?) and it needs a new roof. But as someone pointed out, everyone in Southern Illinois knows 2 or 3 roofers personally, so it shouldn't cost as much as some estimates. The interior work could also be done by volunteer labor. Of course, there should be project managers for each phase of the production.
And who would be involved in mounting this monumental community effort? Well, the Carbondale Stage Company is interested in the building, so is the Graylight Theater, and, uh, people who used to work as projectionists, and Hugh Muldoon's Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Varsity, and Van Anderson's V for Varsity Task Force. Plus several private citizens with sentimental attachments to the theater, all of whom seem to have in mind some kind of hybrid cooperative. I have my doubts about such an arrangement. But let me tell you...the sooner people decide what they want to do and present it to the city to present to Kerasotes, the better. At this point, Brad has the right idea--talk to the president of Kerasotes Theaters (a family owned company based in Springfield) and feel him out as to the company's desires.
The lesson of Normal Theater stands out. If you haven't yet, take a look at their website to see what can be done to a building much like The Varsity.
Sure, it would be a lot of fun to have a Carbondale community arts building, but it would require a tremendous amout of energy and money to bring it off successfully, to last for another 100 years, with community theater, second run movies, perhaps some kind of game (electronic or non) room, a small bar serving LOCAL microbrew beer and wine. (It'll be expensive so the students won't want to go there to get loaded.) The possibilities are inspiring.
Those who say demolish it may have a point, but they must tell us what they would replace it with. Unless it's a better idea than the Carbondale Cultureplex or some other name. Naming it could be a task force of its own. It should be the kind of place that will attract conventioneers and visitors staying in the coming downtown hotel.
Hotel? Do tell!
I'm stymied. I can't believe POOL hasn't advanced its Swimming Pool for Carbondale project further than it has in the months since the idea was first advanced by means of petitions around town, which a couple hundred people signed--to build a swimming pool on the old high school fields. I'm going to ask one of my new friends on city council to speak to the School Board about the possibility of donating the land to "Greater Carbondale Swimming Pool, Inc." (which would be a corporation made up of the Recreation Dept at SIU, the Adolescent Health Center, the City of Carbondale, Carbondale High School, the Carbondale Park District, Kroger, Schnucks, feel free to add to the list.) Why not? The project would help make the city a first-class place to live and benefit its residents for years to come. An old fashioned swimming pool, with some slides and a diving board or two. Nothing humongous. There could be room for apartments or other residential and office space on the HS property as well, which would be all the more desirable because of the swimming pool. Why not? Somebody from POOL better make a presentation to the School Board fast. Or the project may be sunk.
I can't resist...
...writing this to her. Who?
She who writes me, too,
to say 'thank you' times two
for those times you did what you could do,
and helped me out more than a few,
and to those men who send me words to chew,
i'll just say simply thank you, too.