City left holding the popcorn

Nightmare on Vernon Street increasingly appears to be an apt title for the “movie” unfolding around Nelson’s moribund movie theater.

Re: “Theatre must become priority,” April 8

Yes, Nightmare on Vernon Street increasingly appears to be an apt title for the “movie” unfolding around Nelson’s moribund movie theater.

In addition to solid reporting and Friday’s editorial, in the last edition we were also treated to Greg Nesteroff’s telling interview with the former operator of the Nelson movie theatre — for over 20 years. Karen Franz’s wise words speak volumes as to how this situation has been mishandled (and I wish her much luck in her attempts to operate a new theatre in Nelson, perhaps without city involvement).

The Star’s reporter also noted that the city will “seek new offers following an assessment of the building which is not expected to be completed until June.” However, another source at City Hall suggested the following:  “The city is undertaking a facility review of all properties and the theatre is part of this review. The review is expected to be completed by June. Staff and council will be better informed about the condition and usage of all facilities which will clarify future agreements.”

So, now we all have to wait for a “review” of multiple facilities before we can go forward? It would appear that some of the renovations have already taken place. The old seats have been pulled out and new ones are on site.

What are we waiting for, and if a facility review was so critical, why wasn’t it undertaken between leases, or why didn’t it begin when the agreement was broken with the new operators in February? How long is it going to take the city to issue another RFP and go through that whole process again?

This matter has been poorly handled from the get-go. The city has lost out on at least six months (probably a year) of revenue as it drags this through another review process. The former operator of the theatre had apparently been interested in longer-term arrangements, and accompanying improvements, to the structure. From her perspective, she was unwisely and uncharitably ignored while being shown the way out.

It would appear that there was inadequate due diligence undertaken regarding the most recent operators who failed to even get the door open. And the citizens of Nelson continue to be without a simple movie theatre with all the community goodwill, local dollars, and tourist revenue that could be gained from same.

I don’t think they’ve come up with a movie title to encapsulate all of the above, except perhaps for an obscure 2003 film called Better Luck Tomorrow.

I’ll be thinking of it every time I have to drive to Castlegar, wasting time and money, to be part of a movie-going experience. And if I was a betting person, I wouldn’t think twice about putting my money on Ms. Franz.

T. Morrison, Nelson