City looks to save Ro-Na

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2008

The city of Ironton will be pursuing grants to save the Ro-Na Theater and to demolish Memorial Hall and perhaps turn the former city building into a park.

The two city-owned buildings have been topics of discussion in the city council’s public utilities committee meetings.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said he is gathering proposals for a structural assessment of the Ro-Na and the possibility of going after grant money to repair the roof, which has been leaking for years. The city got the building earlier this year after the family who owned it donated it to the city.

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“The roof is the big issue,” Blankenship said. “The first step is to get the assessments and then present it to city council and then pursue grant money.”

After that is done, the mayor said they would start a major campaign to raise money locally to fix up the Ro-Na.

“We are going to have fund-raisers and find volunteers to save the Ro-Na,” Blankenship said.

As for an end use for the project, he would like to see the stage expanded for plays and bands.

“The current stage is not big enough so we would have to enlarge it to be able to host bands and plays,” Blankenship said. “We could also show movies.”

The possible end use for Memorial Hall seems to be a date with the wrecking ball, if there is one strong enough to knock down the thick stone blocks.

“We are gathering ideas right now,” Blankenship said. “One of the ideas on the table right now is to have an open air park. We have an architect who is putting some conceptual plans together, so we can review them.”

Again, the city will pursue grants for structural assessment.

“After that I would like to have public forums and invite our community to inform us of their ideas, what they would like to see,” Blankenship said. “It is a landmark in our community so we have to have community input.”

He said the forums would be later this summer.

Blankenship said the city is trying to move forward on the project.

“It’s been sitting there for 10 years and it isn’t getting any better when we get rains,” he said.

The roof of Memorial Hall has leaked and made the old wooden floors very weak.

The mayor said he would be meeting with Congressman Charlie Wilson on June 18.

“We are going to discuss these projects that I submitted earlier this year,” he said.