Thanks to the MDJ for this story – what do you all think about the whole Strand debacle?
MARIETTA – City residents gathered Monday night to brainstorm ways to raise money to save the Strand Theatre by March 1 and learn how they can help.
Mayor Bill Dunaway reiterated his commitment to the Strand restoration and the need to set aside differences with Ward 7 City Councilman and Strand owner Philip Goldstein to save the historic theater.
“I believe in it,” Dunaway told members of Involved Mariettans Planning Actively for the City of Tomorrow (IMPACT). “I don’t give a damn whether it benefits the Goldsteins or not.”
Goldstein has personally donated $100,000 and rolled back the clock four years on a 55-year leasing agreement with Friends of the Strand to give the nonprofit group more time to raise money it needs to begin renovations.
Dunaway and Cobb Commission Chairman Sam Olens said people could donate or pledge money to the Friends of the Strand online at www.friendsofthestrand.org.
Dunaway called the Strand Theatre, built in 1935, the most important historic structure in Marietta that is not preserved.
“I do look upon this as preserving something historical,” he said.
On Jan. 1, Friends of the Strand launched a 90-day push for $750,000 it needs to begin renovations of the theater. Since, the nonprofit group has collected $100,000 in donations and pledges from untold donors. It needs another $650,000 before March 1.
Some of the 50 people in attendance said they were inspired to get behind the Strand effort after Dunaway’s speech to the Marietta Rotary Club earlier this month when he called on city business and community leaders to step up and pledge money to save the theater.
“I got inspired over the last five days,” said Marietta resident and historic preservation advocate Steve Imler. “If you think there’s value beyond the questions, go ahead and do something.”
Resident Greg Linton said he hopes a restored Strand would inspire Goldstein to renovate many of the other buildings on the Square he owns.
City residents were concerned that there was no guarantee the Strand would subsist for 55 years beyond their donations.
“They have a business plan,” Olens said, describing how the envisioned nonprofit movie theater and community center would be “far cheaper” to run than a traditional movie theater or performing arts center.
Dunaway assured IMPACT that the Strand would be a self-sustaining foundation with “a revenue stream.”
Marietta resident Jane Sherlock said she wants to help as a volunteer at a booth outside the Strand on Saturdays, and added that many people could not afford a $1,000 donation for a seat in the theater.
“Most of us want to help, but I can’t give $1,000 to a seat,” she said, adding she hoped people would make smaller donations if they could.
Marietta Historic Preservation Commissioner and Friends of the Strand board member Becky Paden said 99 of the 438 existing seats have been sold to sponsors.
Olens said he was not in Marietta when the historic courthouse was destroyed in 1969, but added he does not want the same fate to befall the Strand.
“It would really be a lot of shortsightedness to not have this as a community gathering place,” he said.