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Humboldt council gives $10,000 for Humota Theatre

HUMBOLDT — The Humboldt City Council has donated $10,000 toward keeping the Humota Theatre open as a deadline looms for saving the old movie house.

Organizers have been successful in raising funds, but City Administrator Travis Goedken said during Monday’s council meeting that he does not have a dollar amount. He suggested using Hotel Motel Tax funds for the donation.

By state statute and city code, 50 percent of the local Hotel Motel Tax is required to go toward tourism activity.

“We thought it might be a good use of our Hotel Motel Tax fund to be donated toward this project,” Goedken said.

Goedken recommended the council take action in order for the city to make a $10,000 donation.

“People want to donate toward a project they know is going to be successful,” he said. “This donation from the city could show that this project has a higher likelihood of success and generate additional donations.”

Since the Hotel Motel Tax was enacted, the city has received $181,000 and has expended only $60,000.

The council approved the donation, which is to be used for the acquisition of the building and equipment, which would total $30,000.

If the efforts fail, the funds would probably have to go to the Friends of the Park, Goedken said.

The council felt $10,000 was a conservative number.

“I think $10,000 is a good start,” said Councilman Mike Worthington. ”It shows the support of the council.”

The theater at 515 Sumner Ave. opened in 1928. It is a 312 seat single screen auditorium.

In July it was revealed that the theater’s owner, R.L. Fridley Inc., plans to donate the building and hand the business over to a local group.

Efforts to create a non-profit organization to run the theater are under way. But if a new organization can’t be set up in time, the theater will close on Sept. 1.

The council also approved the first reading, waived the second and third readings, and adopted an ordinance prohibiting truck traffic on Elmhurst Avenue and Oak Boulevard.

“This eliminates all of Oak for their use and a section of Elmhurst from U.S. Highway 169 to Forest Boulevard,” Goedken said.

An exception is being made for trucks going onto Sullivan Avenue where new homes are being built. People have complained about heavy truck traffic in the area. For most violators it will be a simple traffic citation plus court costs, Goedken said.

Goedken said vandalism continues to be a problem at the Taft Park shelter adjacent to the Taft Elementary School. The vandalism has increased recently, but Goedken expects it to drop off once school begins again. The vandalism includes anything from people trying to set fire to it to writing on the walls, and etching things into the walls and picnic tables. Even a camera placed in the shelter to catch the vandals was stolen. Closing the building down and only allowing renters to use it is being considered.

“We are going to look at other avenues to be able to catch the individuals doing it,” Goedken said.