Letter to the editor | What’s best for Bellefonte

August 21, 2013 

Sunday’s editorial concerning the Garman Theater does not evenhandedly evaluate the difficulties and benefits of the two competing plans, dwelling at length on the challenges faced by the Bellefotne Historical and Cultural Association while barely touching on those of developer Ara Kervandjian.

As noted at past Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority meetings, he doesn’t yet have the financing for plan completion; an application for resources has not been approved; and his only firm commitment is to tear down the Garman. Anything else depends on financing. There could be an empty lot for an indefinite time.

Saving the Garman offers the best alternative deal for Bellefonte.

The Garman’s previous owners made a huge investment in infrastructure — wiring, plumbing, etc. That is a substantial offset to the cost of damage repair. All of the codes issues have been addressed. The building has been evaluated by an experienced civil engineer and determined to be sound.

BHCA has, or can quickly raise, the money to put a roof on the building. Even if the community arts center BHCA envisions never happens, the roof will still seal the building for it to dry out and the conservatorship process will still clear the structure of debt.

Thus, if BHCA gets possession of the Garman, Bellefonte would retain a historic, sealed and now more marketable Victorian building — as the worst-case scenario. And BHCA would still have the potential to deliver much more.

Kervandjian’s plan can still be realized in Bellefonte. Modern structures can be built at alternate locations and still provide whatever benefits are intended.

Historic structures are site-specific and, once destroyed, are gone for good.

Gary V. Hoover, Bellefonte

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