Ro-Na needs detailed plan

Published 9:51 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Ironton leaders have shown they are committed to efforts to restore the Ro-Na Theatre, but we would also like to see the city commit to a clear plan for this revitalization.

The city has moved forward with a plan to replace the roof on the downtown building, a project that will likely cost more than $120,000 of taxpayer dollars regardless of the specific budget line item from which it is paid.

We support this move, looking at this as an investment in downtown Ironton and, ultimately, into the city’s future. And given the rewards a renovated theater or performance arts center could create, this may offer significant ROI — Return on Investment.

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However, what remains uncertain, is exactly what the next step will be.

The former movie and playhouse has lots of potential but the reality is it also has lots of serious problems. If earlier estimates were correct, the total renovation of the Ro-Na could be well over $1 million.

That leaves a sizeable gap between what little money the city has for a project like this and what will be needed.

It is easy to talk about getting grants or other state and federal funding but it is not always that cut and dry.

We applaud the city’s leadership for the willingness to take a bit of a gamble on this project but hope they they also hedge their bet by creating a clear, public plan with a variety of alternatives.

Only then will taxpayers be able to feel completely assured that this investment will eventually pay off.