LACONIA — The trustees of the Laconia Public Library have contributed $200,000 in trust funds toward the restoration of the Colonial Theater and in return will be entitled to use of the auditorium as specified by a memorandum of understanding between the trustees and the City Council and the Belknap Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).
With the renovation and expansion of the library, the Prescott Auditorium was lost, leaving the library without sufficient space to host events drawing significant numbers of people. The board of trustees, reads the memorandum, "has unanimously determined that the loss of the former Prescott Auditorium has diminished its ability to provide services to the Laconia Community." Consequently, the memorandum continues, the board "has unanimously deemed it prudent to contribute funds toward the renovation of the Colonial Theater." The city and the library agreed that "it is in the best interest of the community to make the public auditorium available to the library."
The memorandum stipulates that the library shall have access to the auditorium for a minimum of 12 days a year and beyond that its use of the facility "shall not be unreasonably be denied." Although the library will not be charged rent, it will reimburse the operator of the auditorium "normal and customary operating expenses" for its use on a per diem basis. The memorandum guarantees that the library shall have the same level of access to the auditorium for 50 years.
The library's memorandum has been approved by the BEDC board of directors and the City Council and now awaits approval by the Charitable Trust Division of the New Hampshire Department of Justice, the agency that oversees the library's endowment from which the funds donated to the theater project were drawn.
Meanwhile, BEDC announced that the public capital campaign has raised more than $1.3 million toward its goal of $2 million to complete the $14.6 million financial package that will fund restoration of the theatre. During the next few months the campaign aims to raise another $700,000 in private contributions from local businesses and residents.
May Ed Engler and Gail Batstone, general manager of the Inn at Mill Falls, who are co-chairs of the campaign, said in a prepared statement that "we appreciate the generous support of our business community and citizens. The Colonial Theater project," they continued, "is truly a community effort that will have a positive community and economic impact for today's and future generations in Laconia and the greater Lakes Region. We encourage the public to consider making donation to the project now."
One element of the public capital campaign is the opportunity to purchase a seat in the theater, which will bear a plaque recognizing the donor. For information on other opportunities for making donations visit 609mainstreet.org or call (603) 524-3057.
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