Vote to change opera house lease seen as plus

VERGENNES — Vergennes residents this past Tuesday, by a 4-1 margin, backed adding a first-floor room to the Vergennes Opera House’s lease in City Hall.
By a 359-89 tally on May 5, voters gave the Vergennes City Council permission to amend the 2003 lease the Friends of the Vergennes Opera House Inc. signed with the city to include “the so-called ticket booth.” That vote was held in conjunction with the second vote on a Vergennes Union High School budget proposal.
That room, about 100 square feet, opens onto the lobby that the second-story theater shares with city offices. Until last year the room was part of the city’s police station, but prior to that it once did serve as a ticket booth for the opera house, before the now-revived theater was shuttered a few decades ago.
The vote was necessary because the Vergennes charter requires citizen approval for all real estate sales, leases or lease amendments involving city real estate.
Friends of the Vergennes Opera House President Gerianne Smart said the room, which the theater group had already been using with city officials’ permission, is a tremendous upgrade from its previous makeshift office space upstairs, which was essentially a converted restroom. And it allows the theater’s former office to serve as critical storage.
“This space, which is square in configuration, allows us to have a functioning office from which to conduct business,” Smart said in an email, adding, “The office downstairs releases the former long narrow ‘office space’ upstairs to be converted into a custodial space. That space now holds all of the supplies to manage the opera house space, including a new-to-us mechanical lift.”
The new room also creates a more formal entry into the theater, Smart said.
“The ticket booth space gives us a location on the first floor where we can greet guests as they come into the building,” she said. “We are delighted that city voters overwhelmingly approved our use of the ticket booth.
“Beyond this I continue to be in awe of the commitment of the FVOH board members as well as the encouragement and support we receive from the Vergennes-wide community. All we can say is ‘Thank You,’ and that we will continue to invest our time and talent into maintaining this beautiful, historic space and providing arts offerings in support of the local creative economy.”

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