Don Chute, director of the Pittsfield Public Works Department, enters the now-closed Pittsfield Community Theatre in October. The Town Council on Tuesday heard a proposal from a local businessman to reopen the theater. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

PITTSFIELD — A local businessman told the Town Council this week that he wants to revive the closed Pittsfield Community Theatre and transform it into a community center.

William Clover, representing the newly formed Clover Improvement Group, presented his hopes for the town-owned theater to the council Tuesday. Councilors expressed interest in his proposal but said to move forward they would need to see a formal business plan.

Clover said he wants to launch a public relations campaign and develop an online following to boost the theater in the community and beyond. He said he’d like to see residents give educational classes and lectures, in addition to using the space for entertainment.

“The theater now, that’s not just a building that sells tickets, it’s an asset that we could capitalize upon,” Clover said.

He said he’s a real estate broker who owns a home refurbishment business, and was prepared to take on the work to repair the theater. He said he wants to raise money with fundraising and grants, but could use personal funds to start the work.

Councilors expressed interest in the goals Clover discussed, but said in addition to the formal business plan they would need to receive a purchase offer.


Mayor Michael Cianchette said the theater needs extensive work and his concern is the council could approve a sale, but then if the buyer is ultimately unable to complete the renovation then the town is left with an eyesore on Main Street and no recourse.

“It’s going to have to have the horsepower, the financial backing, to start it and finish it and make it a viable building, whatever you want to do with it,” Cianchette said.

Officials have said previously that an engineering report done for the town estimated the cost of repairs to be in the range of $700,000, but that estimate is now several years old and today that cost would likely be higher.

Clover did not have a specific purchase price for the council Tuesday but asked councilors what they wanted for the property. Cianchette declined to give a specific number at the meeting, saying the matter was only on the agenda as a presentation, not a discussion item.

The council declined an offer of $20,000 for the theater last fall from Hammer Down Inc., a company owned by Michael and Tammy Smith, who are originally from the area and recently moved back to town.

The Smiths had worked with the Pittsfield Economic Expansion Corp., a nonprofit group that works with the town on economic development, and were prepared to take on the costs and work needed to get the theater back up and running.

And although the vice president of the PEEC, Michael Gray, called the offer a “dream proposal,” councilors at the time were concerned about accepting such a low offer and wanted to see a business plan from the Smiths. The council ultimately voted 3-2 against bringing the offer to a hearing.

At that time the theater was listed for $149,900 and the council declined to lower the price further. Then this spring councilors voted to not continue to list the property at all.

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