Save Our Historic Fairfield Community Theatre #SaveOurCommunity
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THE SHORT OF IT: The goal of this petition is to facilitate the sale of the Fairfield Community Theatre to a developer or group to provide a center for affordable entertainment, cultural development and community involvement, while contributing to the vibrancy and economic vitality of downtown Fairfield, Connecticut. We call upon the current owners—David Pollack and his family—to sell the property as soon as possible to allow for the theatre's timely redevelopment and restoration as a performing arts space.
THE COMPLETE STORY: We all see it just sitting there, in a sad state of disrepair, our Fairfield Community Theatre. It makes us feel as if the town is also in sad shape—despite the vitality that surrounds it. And why not? When a downtown theatre closes and the theatre remains vacant, it is usually one of the first signs of downtown decay. Collectively, we are saddened that something has been lost here and we can’t help to feel the pain for our children, our community and the future of our town. We drive by and wish that somebody would do something to fix it. We wonder, "who owns it?” And, "why doesn’t the town do something about it?”
The truth is that there have been many attempts to revitalize this property since its closing on September 8, 2011—nearly 5 1/2 years ago. In fact, there are many interested property developers and private groups today that would like to buy the property and invest several million dollars needed to revitalize it into a performing arts multifunctional space for events such as concerts, live theatre performances, comedy shows, etc.
You don’t realize it, but it’s a big space; nearly 8,000 square feet seating over 700 people in its current configuration—giving it plenty of space for different uses. Imagine attending a children’s production on a Saturday afternoon or taking-in a comedy act; in a place that was constructed in 1900 and operated continuously at the center of the Fairfield community for nearly 100 years. We all want it fixed and we can envision how it will bring vitality and further economic development to our community—especially at a time when our property taxes continue to rise. In fact, its revitalization has very widespread community support. According to a 2013 survey conducted by students at Sacred Heart’s Jack F. Welch College of Business Graduate Program, 97% of the 1,901 respondents were aware of the theatre and they were overwhelmingly positive about a potential revitalization project. Many respondents wanted to help fund the effort or left comments of general support for the project. Others described their memories of the theatre and noted it as a historical landmark. There was a true affinity for the Fairfield Community Theatre and a strong desire to revitalize the space. Their research and analysis has proven that a multifunctional space is the best analysis and most popular choice from a financial perspective as well as from the community members.
If we have nearly full community support and active interest by developers to revitalize the Fairfield Community Theatre, then what’s the problem, you ask? That is the very reason for this communication and petition—we need the current owners to agree to sell the property.
The building is owned by The Pollack Family Trust—led by David Pollack, who is a long time Fairfield resident—and to date they have rebuffed all efforts to lease or sell the property despite repeated attempts by First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Mark Barnhart and the Fairfield Economic Development Commission to broker a deal between David Pollack and various developers over the years. David Pollack and the Pollack Family Trust were offered their asking price to lease the theater, but David and his family declined the offer—defying both logic and our collective community interest. And, its costing the Trust money every year to just sit on the property, which I estimate to be greater $500,000 in total lost rental income since the property closed in 2011—calculated using their own reported monthly lease payment for the property.
The value to the community is clear and only David Pollack and his family are standing in the way of our community and our children having our Fairfield Community Theatre back. I call upon David and his siblings to have a heart and work with the Town of Fairfield toward the timely sale of the property.
Who am I and why am I the ideal person to lead this groundswell of community support for change? I am an 11 year Fairfield resident with 2 children (who attend Sherman and Trinity Pre-school) and a new baby girl on the way later this summer. I was appointed to the town’s Economic Development Commission in late 2016 by the First Selectman and I promised that I would make it a priority to do something about this theatre—selfishly for my children and for the entire Fairfield community. Also, I am Vice President, Brand Strategy and Integrated Communications at Quinnipiac University, so I know something about branding, marketing and audience activation—especially how to leverage social media to drive change. Simply put, I love our town and like so many others in our community, I'm pained to see such an extraordinary opportunity wasting away.
We can do this together. We know that David Pollack and his siblings are reasonable people, they just need to know how important it is to all of us. Please sign and leave a comment to tell David and his family how you feel. Or, if you know David and his siblings please tell them in person. Most of all, PLEASE distribute to everyone you know—through email, through social media and through conversation and with your full support.
If you have questions or know of other opportunities to spread the word, I am happy to speak with you. Please email me at email@example.com.
Best, Keith Rhodes
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