Ro-Na project needs plan

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spend now or spend more later. That is the quandary that City of Ironton officials are facing when it comes to the Ro-Na Theatre.

The aging theater in downtown Ironton continues to be a focal point for city leaders who are trying to determine the best course of action.

We have long said this shining jewel needs to be restored to its former glory, while also cautioning that a clear plan must be put in place to make this a reality.

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The quandary centers around the decision whether or not to spend city money now to replace the roof — a project that will likely cost at least $100,000 more than the $30,000 already raised through donations — or wait until more money has been donated at the risk of allowing the leaky roof to cause more damage to the 60-year-old structure.

In conjunction with a recently formed steering committee, the first thing the city needs to do is determine exactly what they hope the building to become. Clearly defining its use — which we hope to see as a performance arts center and second-run movie house — will be vital to plotting the next course of action.

Then city leaders should make a full-blown public relations and fundraising blitz to raise as much money as possible.

Finally, the city should use monies that it has received from the sale of other properties over the years. Though it would take about a third of the $300,000 set aside, this would be a good investment in the city’s downtown that could pay huge dividends down the road.

Revitalizing the Ro-Na could attract people to downtown, becoming an anchor to the business district’s future.

But that future will never be realized until a clear roadmap is in place.