Save the Dreamland

SAVE THE DREAMLAND.

Sounds dramatic. Truth is we may not be able to save the Dreamland, if by that we mean finding a way to open a movie theater there again.

But tomorrow night, we have a chance to save it. A chance.

Imagine Nantucket without the Dreamland. You’re walking down Water Street one summer 10, 20, 50 years from now with your children, or they with their children, and saying “That used to be a great old movie theater where thousands of kids and their families went on summer nights, and now it’s been turned into something else the town doesn’t need. The Town had a chance to buy it way back in 2007, and they chose not to.”

Remember the island’s reaction when we heard the Boatyard had been sold. We wished we had had the foresight to buy it first.

Rick Ulmer’s experience would seem to show that a group of savvy investors could not come up with a way to guarantee a return on investment based upon purchase and renovations costs of $16 to $20 million, and retaining a movie theater in the building. If left to private investors, it’s going to end up shops or condos or something we don’t want, because that’s the only way to make the numbers work. So those who say the Town should leave the project for private investors are in effect saying that they’re willing to give up the prospect of the reopening of the theater, although the building itself will likely be preserved.

The only way to control a property is to own it.

If you are a registered voter, and you care about the ultimate fate of the Dreamland, please come to the High School, Thursday night at 7 p.m., listen to the arguments, and vote.

You will NOT be voting to buy the Dreamland. You will be voting to bring the issue to a ballot vote within 90 days. In the intervening time, the proponents will create a more detailed plan of how the renovation and preservation of the theater will be accomplished, and will present that plan with ample time for consideration before the ballot vote. So really you’re voting to give the proponents time to come up with a workable plan. Give us a chance to do that.

In the original article, there was no offering price. A positive motion will be offered tonight that will limit the amount offered to $9 million, $3 million of which the Nantucket Land Bank is prepared to pay for the parking lot to turn it into a public space.

Although not quantifiable, the Dreamland as Arts Center will contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of downtown in ways that no other purchase can ever do. That $9 million will eventually come back to the Town through lease payments, and a stronger year round economy in perpetuity.

Some say they don’t want to reward the current owner for his bad behavior. Well then someone else will eventually reward him, and we won’t have a movie theater.

Please come to the High School tonight and 7 pm and vote to save the Dreamland.

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