Shine light on Turnage plans

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, January 24, 2013

Once again, the Washington City Council, during a closed session Monday, is scheduled discuss the potential acquisition of the Turnage Theater property for the potential arts-related uses.

Although North Carolina’s open-meetings laws allow for the council to discuss such matters behind closed doors, it may behoove the council or some city official to make public remarks — before or after the closed session — concerning the city’s plans for that property. If discussing that matter publicly would not be prudent, that official should make that known and, if possible, explain why.

There are many people who don’t want the city to spend public funds on the Turnage Theater. Some see the theater as catering to an elite few. There are others who believe the city should make some sort of investment in the Turnage Theater. They see the theater as an economic-development opportunity for the city.

Wells Fargo bought the historic theater in early November 2012 for $442,800. Two weeks earlier, the city offered $150,000 to buy the theater, but that offer was rejected.

The council discussed the theater during its Nov. 5, 2012, meeting, but took no action after it emerged from a closed session. That did not sit well with some people.

When it comes to any plans it may have for the Turnage Theater, we urge the city to be as upfront as possible with the public. After all, it’s the public that will be attending events at the theater, if it reopens. An informed public will be in a better position to decide whether to support any plans the city may have for the Turnage Theater.