Auditorium would benefit from taxFacility part of local option half-cent sales tax question
Supporters of renovations to Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center don’t think they’re asking for too much.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Supporters of renovations to Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center don’t think they’re asking for too much.
“The improvements are by no means extravagant,” said the Rev. Arlen Foss, president of the Friends of the Auditorium Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the use of the facility, “It’s not going to be made into a Taj Mahal.”
The response to a question on the Nov. 4 general election ballot will determine whether improvements to the auditorium will be funded through a local option half-cent sales tax or — if the referendum fails — other means to be determined by the city. Proponents say the tax is reasonable, considering all the auditorium brings to the community.
“In the last 20 years the Memorial Auditorium has gone from being a place where it stands idle and maybe a few people used it occasionally to a place where now there’s somebody using it all the time,” Foss said.
“When you do the math, it’s quite a bargain. There are so many things that are not taxed, it seems to be a very fair tax,” he added, referring to the fact that food, clothing and prescription prices would not be affected.
If the referendum does pass, construction on the estimated $1.3 million project could begin as soon as next year.
Chief among the proposed renovations are an additional 4,4000 square feet of lobby and reception area that would include new restrooms and a new ticket booth.
“At intermission time, the people rush to the very few bathrooms we have and they are not convenient. The expanded restrooms are very important,” said Bernice Camery, a member of the Memorial Auditorium Advisory Board who also volunteers as an usher. She said she’s seen the congestion caused by the auditorium’s small lobby first hand.
“Where else do they go?” she said, “Maybe if they’re lucky they can stand in the aisle. (A larger lobby) would take care of some of that.”
“It’s just an entrance, it’s not even standing room only,” added Foss.
Other renovations would include the addition of a drive through drop-off area, which Camery said would accommodate those who have trouble walking, and air conditioning.
“Any building becomes very uncomfortable without air conditioning, but the air conditioning is a benefit not just for the comfort of people but also a benefit for the facilities,” Foss said. “The curtains get damaged and the piano needs to be tuned frequently because of the humidity. Eventually it not only does damage to that but to the wood as well.”
Foss hopes the community will support the auditorium even in the face of the current economic crisis.
“We’re talking now not about the financial, we’re talking about the need,” he said. “Memorial Auditorium has come a long ways … and we’ve only begun to tap the surface. With improvements and the great staff that we have, the future can only be upward.”