An outpour of community support for the Riverfront Theatre has recently raised thousands for imperative, yet unexpected, structural repairs to the theater.
Recently, members of the Second Street Players’ building committee discovered two major faults in the building: decaying joists and beams that support the theater’s floor and a cracked heat exchanger in the building’s HVAC system.
While serious structural improvements to the theater are underway, the building is currently still safe for occupancy, said Dan Marabello, Second Street Players’ treasurer and co-facility manager.
Thanks to community donations, the theater’s HVAC unit was repaired Friday. The structural work needed in the theater’s crawl space was expected to be complete by Wednesday, but the group was just a little short on the bill.
Approximately $12,000 has been donated for both repairs, but the organization is a little more than $1,000 short.
If the Second Street Players hadn’t received such generous donations, collected in less than a month, they probably would have had to take out a loan for repairs, Marabello said.
The Riverfront Theatre, located at 2 S. Walnut St., was built in 1940, and has not had any major renovations or repairs since 2000, said Bob Connelly, member of the Second Street Players’ Board of Directors and co-facility manager.
An email distributed by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford on Oct. 31 explained the theater’s need for repairs, citing the building’s proximity to the Mispillion River in creating a wet environment in the crawl space where the rotted joists and beams were recently discovered.
According to the email, a structural engineer evaluated the beams and said they were safe for operation, but that they should be repaired “last week,” thus creating the Second Street Players’ dire need for donations to take care of the repairs immediately.
The Oct. 31 email spurred an outpour of donations that has recently slowed, which prompted another request from the Second Street Players for financial support from the community.
“This community, in less than a month, has raised $12,000. We’re really flattered by the support the community has shown in this urgent request,” Connelly said. “They’ve really stepped up and support what we do. It says that the theater is clearly important to a lot of people.”
Ticket sales and a yearly grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts supports the volunteer-based community theater in its endeavors, but current funds do not allow for any major unforeseen costs, like the floor and HVAC repairs.
“We need to raise the money to pay for [those repairs] so we don’t have to take it out of the creative funds,” Marabello said. “This is an important part of the city. It’s a focal point. We want to make sure it’s taken care of properly. If we’re fortunate enough to receive extra money, there are more than enough projects that can be funded for the community to enjoy in the future.”
Page 2 of 2 - For more information or to donate, contact Bob Connelly at (302) 265-2525.