Tybee Okays Funds to Help Stock Theatre

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Savannah Morning News - News
November 12, 2015

The Tybee Island City Council on Thursday agreed to buy $110,000 worth of equipment for the newly reopened Tybee Post Theater.

Council members awarded the $72,000 contract for audio/visual equipment, lighting and sound-absorbing wall panels to the sole bidder, Savannah-based Michael Gaster & Associates.

The city is buying a $38,000 projector system from Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Moving Image Technologies, also the only bidder for the purchase. Funds will come first out of the city’s general fund, but they’ll ultimately be reimbursed out of special purpose local option sales tax proceeds.

City Attorney Bubba Hughes confirmed Thursday that the use of SPLOST funds to purchase the equipment is allowable, and the city will then be able to lease the property to the theater in exchange for use of the facility throughout the year.

The new equipment was all that remained for the Post to become a full-fledged theater — a place to take in not only live music and performance art but also films.

“We can’t do films in there now, but this (purchase) will be the projector and screen,” said Jim Kluttz, president of the theater’s board of directors. “This is going to make it much easier to do productions. And the acoustics are good now, but they’ll be better after this. It’s a big step for us. I’m really talking about Tybee in general, for everyone who’s going to go and enjoy that theater.

“The City Council understands that the theater is a tremendous asset for our community. They want to help, and this is how they’ve chosen to do it. And it’s fantastic.”

During a presentation to the City Council in August, representatives of the nonprofit Friends of the Tybee Theater asked the city to get involved in the purchase to bring the work to renovate and reopen the theater to a close.

Since the Friends of the Tybee Theater purchased the space in 2006, the group has spent nearly $2 million on renovations and repairs.

The money came from a myriad of sources, including a mortgage, loans and sales tax revenue from the city, donations, grants, memberships and special events. Funds raised through these means have provided for a new roof, windows and doors, new electrical and HVAC systems and other renovations.

Kluttz said this week there are more items to purchase and construct — backstage dressing rooms and restrooms, curtains — but those can be added as more money comes in.

“We’re excited about it, because it’s such a fantastic opportunity for Tybee. It’s a great thing for Tybee,” he said. “It’s just been such a pleasure to go in there, to have events. Because of the lack of equipment, we’ve been limited on what we can do. But just to see the people having fun in there — you feel it. I did not expect this great feeling. I think everybody on our board shares it.”

Since the grand opening in September, the theater has hosted a talent show, comedy, live music and a play, with more events on deck.

Also rapidly approaching is one of the Friends of Tybee Theater’s single largest fundraisers, the Tybee Polar Plunge. The council on Thursday approved the special event permit for the plunge, in which costumed participants charge into the Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day.

In other business Thursday, the council:

• Approved a request for proposals for a city comprehensive plan, signed off on a Complete Streets Policy in support of the city’s Bicycle Friendly Community application and approved an intergovernmental agreement with Chatham County to fund construction of new restrooms and showers at North Beach.

• Announced they will be accepting resumes, cover letters and letters of intent from citizens to fill a vacant seat on City Council. The documents may be turned in to City Clerk Jan LeViner from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at Tybee Island City Hall. The council will make the appointment at a meeting scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday.