Worth saving

Published 8:48 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012

During a closed session Monday, Washington’s City Council discussed the possible purchase of the Turnage Theater by the city. The council emerged from that closed session, allowed by state law, and took no action related to the Turnage Theater.
Some people are convinced the city is going to buy the Turnage Theater. They talk about such a purchase not being good use of city dollars. There’s a lot of misinformation about the role of the city in the fate of the Turnage Theater.
As soon as possible, after carefully evaluating the matter, city leaders should inform the public what the city intends to do or not do about the Turnage Theater. If the decision comes that the city will buy the Turnage Theater, city leaders should fully explain the reasoning behind such a decision. Then again, the city may decide it’s not in the best interest for it to buy the Turnage Theater.
If that’s the case, there may be nothing wrong in the city helping facilitate a private purchase or a public-private purchase of the Turnage Theater. Two speakers at the council’s meeting Monday characterized the Turnage Theater as an important element in the area’s economy. Bob Henkel, owner of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, said sales there have dropped 20 percent since the Turnage Theater closed almost a year ago. Trent Tetterton, part of the Washington Harbor District Alliance’s economic-development branch, said a reopened Turnage Theater would be an economic stimulus for the city.
Both men said a reopened Turnage Theater must serve a much more diverse population than it served before it closed. They’re right. If the Turnage Theater reopens, it must provide programming that’s affordable for as many people as possible and appeals to as many people as possible.
The Turnage Theater is worth saving. If the theater is to be saved, the public needs to know as soon as possible how its going to be saved and who is going to save it.