It’s going to cost Sussex Borough between $50,000 and $100,000 to fix the roof on the Crescent Theatre, Sussex Borough Mayor Edward Meyer announced July 28.
However, a debate broke out on whether the borough should sell the building, but Councilman Charles Fronheiser said the borough cannot get grants to fix the roof unless there is a tenant in the building.
The council had spent the previous two special meetings discussing a boiler-plate lease for possible tenants.
The roof is in disrepair and leaking, and the previous tenant, the Cornerstone theater group, left some items around in the building. Meyer said one of the walls had collapsed and to the left of the stage, one can see outside. He also said there was something in the air in one area that caused he and Borough Administrator Toni Smith to wear masks.
“This is a template for the lease,” Meyer said. “That’s what has transpired, but there is no bottom line to the full condition of the theater, or what the full amount of bringing it to remediation would be.”
Fronheiser said the building has been appraised and the council never discussed what its intentions were for the building.
“We didn’t discuss selling it; we didn’t discuss not selling it,” Fronheiser said. “We had the building appraised. We had a lot of other properties appraised. The reason we’re doing this is so we could get grants to fix the building. We can’t get grants if there’s no tenant in that building.”
Councilman Frank Dykstra said he was not in favor of fixing the theater and agreed with former Councilwoman Linda Masson, who said discussing a lease was “putting the cart before the horse.” He’s in favor of selling the building and getting the borough out of the theater business.
“I took a personal tour of the vacated theater and words cannot fully describe what I saw,” he said. “It’s in shambles. It’s a mess. Cosmetically, and structurally, we have big, big problems here. It’s not in move-in condition.”
Meyer’s suggestion was to sell it to a non-profit.
Fronheiser said the building could still be sold after bringing a tenant in there and getting grants to repair it.