MONTE VISTA — In a meeting that was held on Thursday, Aug. 4, the Monte Vista City Council discussed the sale of the Vali 3 Theater.
Monte Vista City Manager GiGi Dennis began the discussion.
“Council had approved for me to apply for a READY Grant through DOLA, and for us to put some matching funds in that,” Dennis said. “We did receive that grant. DOLA has not given me the paperwork yet, to actually sign off but it was approved.”
Dennis explained that since the grant was in place for both the Vali 3 Theater and the Ski-Hi Complex, that they could do an RFP, a request for proposal, after she received the paperwork on the grant.
Dennis said that Councilwoman Martha Lock and Councilman Larry Foster brought up the idea of discussing this again at the meeting that was being held, so the discussion was added to the agenda.
“I have had five people approach me with interest in purchasing the theater,” Dennis said. “I have told them all let’s hold off until we get this business plan done, and then we can decide if that is how we want to move forward. So, based on whatever you all can come up with today, we can go ahead and decide whether to sell it, or auction it, or leave it as is. I can visit back with DOLA, we will return that portion of the money, if we have, or they just won’t give us that portion of the money, of what they estimated the Vali 3 Theater to be when we put in this proposal.”
The Vali 3 Theater has had problems over the years. The prior owners were unable to financially keep up with the changes in technology for the theater. Consequently, in January of 2014, the theater was donated to the City of Monte Vista by its prior owners.
The theater then closed its doors for a period. After being donated to the city, the city did try many times to reopen the theater doors, but the cost of converting the three screens in the theater to a digital format proved to be financially difficult.
The theater was at a standstill for quite a while. After receiving some information that the theater could be taken on as a community project, the City of Monte Vista held some organizational meetings and partnered with many Monte Vista stakeholders, including Bob Bryning who was the president of the Monte Vista Community Fund at the time and begin slowly revitalizing the theater to open its doors.
A committee was also put together called the Friends of Vali 3, a volunteer committee who agreed to help run the theater for the city. On Dec. 12, 2014, the Vali 3 Theater reopened. Other problems have arisen since the theater reopened, due to compliance issues.
In recent City Council meetings, the discussion of the Vali 3 Theater has come up, due to these issues. The Friends of Vali 3, who run the theater, have been warned about these issues and the city has threatened to shut down the theater, if the issues were not taken care of.
Since the city owns the building, the city holds liability insurance on the theater and pays the utilities at the theater, therefore the city is responsible should someone get hurt due to issues not being resolved. Some of the issues that were brought up were the lack of visible signage including entrance and exit ways in and out of the theater.
In recent meetings, Dennis had also spoken with council members about a READY Grant that could potentially help with a new business plan for the theater.
The discussion was once again being brought forward to council members regarding the theater, the READY Grant, and the business plan. Councilwoman Lock was the first to discuss the plan with Dennis.
“You mentioned that DOLA has not gotten back to you with the paperwork. How long will that take,” Lock asked.
Dennis replied, “Anywhere from 4 to 5 months.”
Councilwoman Lock went on to talk about how the theater has become an expense to the city due to the city paying insurance and utilities on the building, and how the expense was more of a taxpayer’s expense as the taxpayers were the ones paying for the theater, not the city.
Dennis then explained that an analysis was done of the expenses that the city had paid out on the theater over the past five years, which was an excess of $275,000. Lock stated that she thinks the time to act is now, while there are people interested in purchasing the theater, so that the taxpayers do not have to continue to put money into the theater.
Dennis discussed with council members that they would have to decide whether to sell the theater, auction off the theater, or donate the theater, but whatever they decided the theater would have to be posted to give anyone who was interested in the theater a fair chance to purchase.
Councilman Jason Lorenz asked if they could specify the sale to include keeping the building a theater. Dennis explained that they could specify that in the sale.
Councilwoman Lock stated that she believes that there should be an RFP put out without a public hearing or meeting, as interested parties would know if they wanted to purchase the theater by the contingencies that were put in the sale information. Councilman Lorenz agreed with Lock.
Mayor Dale Becker said he thought it would be best that a public hearing be held before the theater went up for sale to ask the public for ideas about the theatre.
Mayor Pro-Tem Victor Sigala stated that he agreed with both sides, that a public meeting should be held, so that the taxpayers would have a say so in the sale, but he also could see the point of view of allowing someone just to buy it if the request for proposal was released, as whoever decided to purchase knew why they wanted to purchase the building.
The City Council passed a motion to release the theater from the READY Grant for the business plan. The City Council then passed a motion, with the input of City Manager Dennis, to request that the city create a plan to best release the RFPs for the sale of the Vali 3 Theater. Both motions were passed unanimously, with further items to be discussed before the sale of the theater.
The next City Council meeting will be held on Aug. 18.