Students make pitch for old theater use

Some Strasburg High School students say the town could turn the old Strasburg Theater into a community center.

A group of students in Jared Brice’s Principles of Business class presented their suggestions to Town Council on Monday. Katie Knight, Danyelle Gordon, Trey Mills, Ryan Day and Trevor Taff worked on the project during National Education Week late last month, Brice said.

Students were directed to develop a business and Brice, after seeing the theater recently, steered them to use the vacant building in their project. Some of their ideas included reviving the building as a theater, turning it into a bar or restaurant or a clothing store, Brice said.

Then the idea of turning the building into a community center came up, Brice recalled.

“As we went on we realized it’s not really a project; it’s something that we, and a lot of people we talked to at the high school, they really want to see it done because, I mean, right now, there’s nothing to do after school except to run around and cause trouble,” Mills said.

Gordon said the idea of keeping the building as a theater appeals to an “older generation.” But a community center could appeal to younger and older generations and bring both together, Gordon said. The theater building also lies close to the schools and its location would give parents some peace of mind knowing their children were near, she noted.

The community center should include a rock-climbing wall, basketball court, weight room, a locker room with saunas and showers plus a rental center for equipment, Day said.

The teacher said his class had to use photographs of the property because they could not go inside the building.

Council members lauded the students for the effort and asked questions about the concept.

“I think that through the fact that a lot of people at the school want to see it happen, I mean, just us five, we’d be a big part of trying to get people going to it,” Mills said. “I think that a lot of young people will try and get a lot of older people to help.”

But while a theater would provide the town with a source of revenue, a community center would not, Councilman Donald Le Vine said. The councilman pointed out the health and recreational benefits of a community center, but told the students that taking the theater off the tax base the town would need to find a way to cover the loss in revenue.

“I’m not saying your idea is wrong,” Le Vine said. “That’s also an issue you have to think through, that balance.”

Brice noted that rentals and membership fees could help offset some of the maintenance costs of a community center.

“That is one thing we discussed, was where does the funding come from?” Brice said. “Where are you going to attract investors for something like this?”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com