The Lerner Theater needs a million dollar investment in a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and Elkhart city council voted unanimously on Monday to spend $ 500,000 from the general fund for these improvements.
The council plans to fund the rest from the city’s US bailout dollars, but will vote on that funding at its next meeting.
According to documents filed with the board, Lerner’s 10-year-old HVAC system was well maintained, but was “extraordinarily undersized” for the theater when it was installed. It was also damaged by hail and power outages.
Rex Martin, with Friends of the Lerner, said the CVC upgrade is needed to support the theater.
“It’s very important to make sure the council and the city take care of our assets,” said Martin. “We invested $ 18 million in it a few years ago and we must continue to maintain it. “
Council member David Henke voted to approve the replacement, along with the rest of the Council. But he also said he was concerned the undersized system was installed in the first place.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” said Henke. “Once again we have to make taxpayers pay for something that we haven’t been monitoring well – so I’d like to get to the bottom of this. “
Even though it’s fall, the city has chosen to start replacing the HVAC system now in preparation for next summer due to COVID-19 supply delays.
The council also voted 7-1, with Henke voting no, to spend $ 1.5 million on HVAC upgrades for Elkhart town hall and the town annex.
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