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Paramount, Peekskill Officials Firm Up Future Plans

While Peekskill officials prepare to seek proposals for new management at the Paramount, the theater's board of directors is scrambling to develop a plan that will help it deal with its debt going forward.

Peekskill officials and Paramount board members are firming up their plans for the city’s defunct performing arts center in the next few days.

Vinnie Vesce, board president for the Performing Center for the Arts, said the Peekskill Common Council’s announcement that it is seeking proposals for new management at the Paramount caught him off-guard. Vesce said the board is now scrambling to come up with a plan for the future.

“We were under the impression that we were working with the city in a cooperative manner to reopen as quickly as possible,” Vesce said. “We were confident that we would have been able to address the liabilities at the Paramount Center for the Arts if this was done in cooperation with the city.”

The Paramount’s Board of Director’s announced that the theater was temporarily closing  its doors temporarily on Oct. 3 due to financial difficulties. In September, the Paramount held a fundraising campaign for $300,000 in order to make up for cuts in grants and other contributions.

“That was a real number and we were thoughtful in what our goals were,” Vesce said. “We felt $300,000 is what we needed to get us through the season and into next year. Unfortunately, we were only able to bring in less than 10 percent of what we were hoping to raise. That helped accelerate the need for us take the action we did.”

The Paramount had a deal in place to lease the building for one dollar a year through 2033, but there were certain requirements that needed to be kept in place in order for the agreement to stand.

“There’s a whole process that needs to be followed and we’re going to be consulting with our attorneys,” Vesce said. “We take our responsibilities seriously and we’re making sure that we respond in the correct manner required by the law.”

Common Council Member Kathleen Talbot said a draft request for proposal has already been made and that the common council plans to have it ready by next week.

“It is going to happen very quickly,” Talbot said. “We’re going to put this out there and look for interesting plans from a variety of people. We’re throwing out a wide net.”

Talbot said the city would look at nonprofit management models similar to the one that already exists, a for profit management model, or a hybrid that incorporates nonprofit and for profit mechanisms.

Talbot also said that it is unlikely that the Common Council will agree to a lease agreement similar to the one that is currently in place.

“I think we’re looking to make money going forward,” Talbot said. “The situation is different that it was back then. Money is tight.”

peekskillman October 26, 2012 at 09:18 PM
the City should continue to move forward with it's plans; leave Vinny and the current board out of the loop, they did enough damage already. "Caught off guard indeed", how do you think the patrons, City and even your executive director must have felt ,Mr. Vesce?? Please remember that the City owns the Paramount, and if the board (meaning tenants) cant fulfill their contractual obligations, then away you go. Makes it even harder to swallow when one finds out the amount of subsidies the PC receives, whether from the city, ConEd, patrons,etc A dollar a year lease is something many of us would like to have for our own rents
JM October 26, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Thanks, Rasheed for keeping us informed. This is an important issue and I'm glad to see the common council already has a proposal. May there be more! As far as I'm concerned, those formerly in charge, are out of the picture entirely when they closed the doors.
john basic October 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I agree. Rule #1. Once you lose $300,000.00 you are not allowed back in the game. For Mr. Vesce to even think the current board would have a voice about the future of the Paramount is laughable.
SavetheParamount October 27, 2012 at 01:46 AM
in response to Peekskillman...trust me, the ED knew what was going on...she was there when the decision was made. However, for some of the other dedicated folks who used to have jobs at PCA, they had to find out about it by reading it in the Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch. The entire board and the ED should go and not give a second thought to re-occupying the theater. That would be the WORST that could happen.
Patty Villanova October 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Anyone who knows anything about downtown Peekskill, especially those of us who had or have businesses there, can tell you what went wrong with the Paramount and that it did not happen overnight. Like all the elites, VV feels he has the divine right to remain director even after all that's transpired. Finally the city is on the right track- bring in some successful entrepreneurs like the names I'm seeing put out there, start charging an actual rent for the magnificent theater and for God's sake, don't let the old Board anywhere near the theater. In fact, the city needs to go to court ASAP and get a restrainiing order to keep them far away.

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