Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Theatre Groups Need Stage Lack of Available Space in Beaches Pinches Troupes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Theatre Groups Need Stage Lack of Available Space in Beaches Pinches Troupes

Article excerpt

NEPTUNE BEACH -- The future of a proposed community center appears dead unless the city will step up to the plate and provide a site for two theatrical groups willing to pay for the facility.

The groups are willing to build the center that also would serve as a theater on the condition Neptune Beach donate the land or provide an inexpensive, long-term lease on city property. Officials with Players By The Sea and Acting Up Theatre say they cannot afford the project without donated city land.

"As far as we're concerned, the deal is dead in the water unless they find some city property," said David Boyer, a board member for Players By The Sea.

None has surfaced since last month when Bruce Rehmer, chairman of the city's Community Center Committee, withdrew a proposal to locate the facility on city yards off Forest Avenue after nearby residents expressed strong opposition to the site.

Rehmer said he has continued to look for sites without much success. One possible location could be the Public Safety Building on Lemon Street if surplus fire equipment is removed, he said.

However, some City Council members expressed reluctance to sell the equipment during their July 19 meeting. "I wouldn't say that's a viable option at this point," said Mayor George Vaughn.

Vaughn said he wants to see the center built but acknowledged there is limited city property available for such a project.

"Our choices really are limited. We don't have very much public land," he said. "I will continue looking for opportunities, even up to the purchase of property. There is a definite need and desire for a community center."

Meanwhile, Players By The Sea faces a Jan. 1 deadline to vacate its present facility at 222 First St. N., Jacksonville Beach, in part because the building's owner has other plans for the property. …

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