WATERVILLE — The city is being asked to guarantee, or co-sign, a $1.25 million loan for the Waterville Opera House renovation project.

City councilors will host a public hearing on the request at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at The Center downtown.

The hearing will precede the council’s regular 7 p.m. meeting.

The public will have a chance to ask questions and air concerns about the Opera House loan, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

“Our charter requires us to hold a public hearing 14 days before taking a vote,” Roy said Thursday. He said the initial discussion will be next week and the vote will be April 17.

Roy said the city has never guaranteed such a loan, which would make the city responsible for repaying it if the Opera House can’t.

Opera House Executive Director Diane Bryan said Thursday that the city would be the guarantor, because the city owns the building, but the Opera House will make all the payments.

“Yes, it’s a loan, but it’s more of a line of credit in my opinion, so we can pay our bills back in a timely fashion,” she said. The Opera House is undergoing a $4.8 million renovation and addition project.

The project funding includes a $2 million donation from the Harold Alfond Foundation, which was matched by $2 million in fundraising and another $300,000 from the Alfond Foundation that is paying for the set construction building.

Bryan said Thursday that money for the project is being pledged during a set timeframe and the Alfond Foundation is matching the money as it comes in.

The money will be coming in over the next 18 months and the project will be completed later in the spring and meanwhile, bills must be paid, according to Bryan.

A grand opening is scheduled for April 27.

Bryan said the city’s guaranteeing the loan will allow the Opera House to pay its contractors the way they should be paid, and in a timely manner.

“From our point of view, and certainly from the bank’s point of view, we don’t own the building and we don’t own the property.”

She said the construction is going well and while much of it will be completed by April 27, the final work is expected to be completed the first week of June.

“They’re just feverishly working over there,” Bryan said. “All the seats are in up in the balcony, the addition has been framed and they’re putting walls up in the addition.”

The Opera House, built in 1902, showcases everything from plays to musical events and was closed last year for the project.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

 

 


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