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Letters: September 18, 2014

Published on: September 17, 2014

6 “Must Ask” Questions That Are Key To Deciding About Another Theater

1. Will the $4.2 million theater loan REALLY be cost-free to SCC homeowners?

No.  There will be an opportunity cost to all current SCC residents.  We will be forced to give up alternative uses for the capital improvement fund.  Building another  theater in SCC will eliminate any other new projects for 8 years.  What are the alternatives?  A new multi-use building including a café, another “Florida Room”, meeting rooms administrative offices.  Additional pickle ball courts.  Picnic pavilions, WiFi in all public areas, a swimming pool on the south side of Hwy. 674, new club rooms, a “town square” with a platform in the center where residents can enjoy live music, and so on.  None of this can happen until 2024 if we tie up $4 million in debt repayment.

2. Does SCC NEED a $4.2 million theater?

We already have 2 theaters in SCC (Community Hall and The Rollins). Counting the Borini Theater in KP, there are 3.   There are many alternatives to building a 3rd or 4th theater which are far less costly and which wouldn’t put our community in debt.  Let’s start with an easy, cost-free solution.  PAC split off from the Pelican Players about 10 years ago when Lew Resseguie walked out.  Why not have PAC walk back in and rejoin the Players.  They’ll use the well-equipped Borini Theater at KP.  SCC and KP really aren’t big enough to support two community theaters.   Alternatively, PAC can use The Community Hall which is already used as an entertainment venue.  It’s due for remodeling next year.  Let’s put a bit more effort into The Community Hall in order to enhance the stage.  If the Borini works for the Pelican Players, The Community Hall should be just fine for PAC.

3. Whose theater is this anyway?

PAC effectively “owns” the Rollins Theater.  It uses the Rollins as its club house.  PAC has a little-known agreement with the SCCCA that grants it exclusive use of the Rollins (with a couple of grandfathered exceptions) rent-free and no-cost for all maintenance and utilities.

All of the revenues from ticket sales, over $40,000 per year, are retained by PAC.  Where does that money go?  We’re not sure because the CA has never audited PACs financial records.

Unanswered by the CA Board is whether the new $4.2 million theater will be given to PAC for its exclusive use.  What happens to the profits from ticket sales? Why haven’t these been discussed with SCC homeowners?  How do we justify a $4 million gift to a club that consists of just 13 members (only 9 of whom are SCC residents)?  

4. What kind of theater will it be, and is that reasonable?

If you are thinking about a nice ‘Community Theater’, guess again.  In their “Theater Needs” PAC is demanding Broadway style facilities.  Does it really need an orchestra pit with two dedicated pianos?  Audience space for 400+ when they presently cannot fill a 200-seat theater?  A rehearsal studio?  A concession stand?  A box office?  A theater office?  A roof high enough to drop in scenery from the ceiling?  When, if ever, will our CA directors apply a test of reasonableness?

 5. Is the any evidence that a new, stand-alone theater will improve property values?

SCC already has two theaters.  It’s hard to see how a third one will affect the value of our property.  On the other hand, the alternative uses of the capital reserve fund mentioned in question #1 will certainly enhance the desirability of our community and the value of our homes.

6. Why haven’t our CA directors asked the critical questions?

If we don’t ask the right questions, we’re unlikely to get the information we need to make good decisions.  The CA Board has allowed itself to be bullied by Chuck Collett and his cronies.  By calling for a referendum without having a clear understanding of all of the issues, our CA directors are throwing the community off track.   Before having a referendum to decide how to pay for a $4 million ‘white elephant’, let’s first decide whether we even need a third theater.

Encourage our CA directors to ask the right questions before holding the referendum.  And insist on receiving the answers.  No answers.  No third theater.  No debt.

Ed Feder, Chairman
SCC Committee for Responsible Community Management

 

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Response Letter

Question #1- Will the $4.2 million theater loan really be cost free to SCC homeowners?

Answer: This alleged cost of the theater is totally ERRONEOUS. The estimated cost of the theater is between $2.4 and $2.8 million. The loan will be paid off in 6 years, OR LESS, and during that entire time funds will be available for other projects since we will be taking in significantly more than the amount required to repay the funds advanced. If we want to borrow the entire $3 million the Board is requesting on the ballot, we can complete everything left on the existing long range master plan immediately.

Question #2- Does SCC NEED a $4.2 million theater?

Answer: AGAIN, the cost of the theater is between $2.4 and $2.8 million. In reality we don’t have any real theaters in SCC. The Rollins was originally the first “Florida Room” in SCC dating back to 1961. Thanks to the exclusive contributions of the PAC it has been “upgraded” for use but has many deficiencies including no real stage, poor acoustics, poor seating, no ease of access, no restrooms, no handicap access, no shelter from the elements, etc. Community Hall is not a theater. It can be used for dance bands, etc., but has no real stage, poor acoustics, no lighting, etc. It would cost substantial sums to remake it into a theater. Mr. Resseguie never walked away from the Pelican Players and in fact, the two groups are working together cooperatively. The Borini can be considered a “theater” although that is only because it has a large stage with wings and room backstage. Beyond that it is again more of an exhibition hall. Unfortunately, the Borini is already so overbooked that the Pelican Players can only give 3 performances after practicing months for any given show. A real entertainment center, which the new theater would be, will be able to offer many more entertainment and educational opportunities to our residents. It will also allow current users such as folks who attend the Monday movies, Front Porch Pickers, Irish Connection, Fun Fest, Christmas Walk, PAC shows, etc. to have the space they deserve.

Question #3- Whose theater is this anyway?

Answer: PAC doesn’t “own” the Rollins Theater. It has an agreement with the CA to manage the theater for scheduling etc. That agreement went into effect in 2003 and has been renewed by a subsequent Board. No rent is charged, just like no rent is charged to clubs for use of the Arts & Crafts Building or similar facilities. However, over the past 12 years PAC has contributed almost $150,000 in improvements to the Rollins Theater for the use of all residents. The Board has already been advised that there will be some arrangement made to contribute ticket proceeds to the CA from all shows (not just PAC) to help offset the operating costs. And, finally, 15,000 people attend various events in the Rollins including Monday Movies, Front Porch Pickers, Irish Connection, etc. They are the folks who said they want an improved heater and they deserve better. We all deserve better.

Question #4- What kind of theater will it be and is that reasonable?

Answer: The proposed theater is nothing like that suggested. It will have 300 seats, a lobby and will be built with raked style seating so everyone has a good view. It will have a lobby with restrooms to allow folks to get out of the elements and may have a small enclosed space (the “box office”) to allow people to pick up tickets. A concession area is doubtful because of proximity to United Community Church. There will be a “rehearsal area” (just a room) along with dressing rooms and restroom facilities in the rear so that other activities can continue while a new production is in preparation. There will be no orchestra pit and the roof will be taller to accommodate the seating.

Question #5- Is there any evidence that a new, stand-alone theater will improve property values?

Answer: There are 4 retirement community web sites that receive more hits than SCC. Every one of them has a stand-alone theater. All of our area realtors [sic] go to a monthly informational meeting called “ARENA”. Ask one of your realtor friends and you will find that ARENA has consistently said by almost unanimous consent that having a true theater will enhance home sales and home values.

Question #6- Why haven’t our CA directors asked the critical questions?

Answer: The questions have been asked and answered. In June of 2013 the CA Board by a vote of 8-1 adopted a long range plan that included a theater. The theater was included because in the 2011-12 residents’ survey an overwhelming majority of our residents indicated they wanted an improved/expanded theater. It was the second most requested indoor improvement behind a café. The only issue was to finance it or use “pay as you go”, which is exactly the question the proposed ballot issue will answer. AGAIN, the cost of the theater is approximately half of the outlandish claim being made. The Board asked its experts (architects, engineers and construction manager) if the Rollins Theater could be expanded and in March of 2014 were told in writing that it can not be. So the only way to meet the request of our residents for a better theater is to build a new one.

Chuck Collett
SCC Theater Fund Group

 

 

Dear Editor,

I read the letter that was published last week applauding CVS for their unselfish move to remove tobacco products from their shelves.

I was in CVS just the other day after the tobacco products had been removed from the shelves, and right up front was a large display of beer. How many innocent people have been killed on the highways or maimed for life, by someone who was driving drunk? How many homes have been wrecked because of drinking too much alcohol?  How many people are in prison because they did something stupid while drinking alcohol (and the tax payers are paying for them to be incarcerated)?

Many people will argue, “beer doesn’t have nearly the alcohol that a bottle of liquor has”,  and that’s true, but I’ve seen people drink one beer right after another, therefore the alcohol consumption may be just as high. The only difference is that they have to run to the bathroom more often.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that tobacco is a vice, and I do applaud CVS for taking it off their shelves, but if CVS wants to be really unselfish, and help the health and welfare of their customers, then stop selling beer  and wine too.

Phyllis Liles
Sun City Center

 

This letter was addressed to William Hodges, contributing columnist of Positive Talk, referring to his column in last week’s newspaper.

Dear Bill,

Your Positive Talk column was a keeper this week. “Writing down memories for the future” really woke me up to the fact that my four offspring do not really know much about me.  I can’t recall  telling them a lot about my life.  My youngest daughter said, years ago, “Mom, we have the family tree, but that doesn’t tell us what growing up was like for you. How about putting some leaves on the family tree and writing about your life”.

I actually did start, but like many projects, it got sidetracked.  Your column gave me the inspiration to start tacking those leaves on the tree again. I guess what I want say is, Thank you, Bill.

Betty J. Mack
Sun City Center

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