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The Priest Theatre has reached their fundraising goal, which will allow equipment upgrades from film to digital projection in order to keep the theatre operational.

HIGH SPRINGS – On May 30, 2013, High Springs Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) members authorized $40,000 to be used by Priest Theatre owners Alan and Janet Alligood solely on exterior and foundation improvements for the historic theatre building.

Alachua County provides a pass-through of tax dollars from the downtown district’s collected taxes to the CRA to fix or improve deteriorating portions of the downtown district. This year the CRA has chosen to help improve the front of the Priest Theatre, a historic structure built in 1914 by W.A. Priest at 15 NW 1st Street.

According to Janet Alligood, the building is historically significant because it is the only one built during the early days of the city that has been continually used for the purpose it was built.

“People have come all the way from Gainesville to visit our theatre,” explained Janet Alligood. Neighboring towns also are served by the theatre and some business owners believe the theatre is a High Springs visitor’s attraction.

The CRA’s decision to provide funds for the structure and building façade is good news for the 437 backers who pledged $87,472 to help pay for the required equipment upgrade from film to digital projection in order to keep the theatre operational.

The industry-wide requirement began a 60-day fundraising effort by High Springs citizens to raise $85,000 to help pay for the new equipment. As of June 3, 2013, the end of the 60-day pledge drive, the goal was exceeded by $2,472.

The CRA’s decision at this time means that the required improvements to the building will now be completed in time to secure the investment in the required new equipment. The current condition of the 100-year-old structure allows moisture into the building. Digital equipment providers have told the Alligoods that their equipment will be severely compromised if the structure is not repaired before the new equipment is installed.

Board members applauded the couple for their determination to raise funds to pay for the required digital projection equipment inside the building. During the meeting, which occurred prior to meeting their goal, the Alligoods vowed that if their $85,000 goal for the new equipment was not met, they would come up with the additional funds themselves.

Alan Alligood estimated the outside improvements the CRA was funding would be completed before the end of the year.

Also during the meeting Vice-Chair Sue Weller presented a list of several additional projects the board could consider completing within the next three years, which met the requirements for CRA funding. Among the items identified to research further was the possible purchase or rental of the train station building as a site for the train museum. City Manager Ed Booth is to look into the issue further to determine if the building is a viable option and its condition.

Additional parking, sidewalk repairs, building facades and a billboard on I-75 were also listed for consideration. Weller asked the board members to review the list prior to the next meeting, which is scheduled for June 18, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. She asked that Booth attach realistic costs to each project to help the board determine how to allocate the CRA funds for the next three years.

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