Cool decision

Air conditioning huge milestone in Kay Theatre renovation work

Volunteers who have spent a decade working on the Kay Theatre may finally be seeing lights at the end of tunnel, and those just could be stage lights.

A major milestone was passed last week when the city council okayed a $12,000 expenditure from hotel-motel taxes which will insure the Kay’s auditorium gets the air-conditioning/heating work it needs to become a viable public venue.

The city’s tourism committee had recommended that expenditure.

That’s a big deal. Restoration work on the Truman Administration Era quonset hut building has been proceeding in phases for a reason. It costs quite a bit and the group has been proceeding as funds become available.

So far as fund-raising is concerned, the Kay Theatre Foundation has been in kind of a circular situation. To hold fund-raisers in the theatre it needs to have a number of amenities. The only way to provide those amenities is to pay for them. To pay for them it needs money. To get money it needs to hold fund-raisers. You get the idea.

Obviously a major remaining need is air conditioning and heating. The 70-year-old theatre becoming a community venue simple isn’t going to happen without it.

Imagine trying to hold an event inside the Kay any night from May through September without air conditioning.

Heating/air conditioning work on an enclosure that size isn’t one of those jobs you can do a little bit at a time. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Until last week it was “nothing.”

The $12,000 by the city will be combined with the $5,000 the Kay Theatre Foundation has in the bank and will get the AC/heating project on the way.

It won’t totally complete the long-awaited project. Les Davenport, Kay Theatre Foundation president, said volunteers will probably need another year before the renovation project is over.

However far the restoration project has to go, one thing’s for sure. Last week’s decision was one of the coolest things to happen to the Kay in many decades.—M.B.

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2014-01-23 digital edition

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