Gusman Leaks Prompt Plea For Advance
By Candi Calkins
A leaky roof in downtown’s Gusman theater has prompted Art Noriega, executive director of the Miami Parking System, to seek an advance on a $3.9 million grant designated for theater repairs.
Mr. Noriega is seeking a $1 million advance for a roof replacement and air-conditioning repairs, saying the city-owned vintage 1926 theater otherwise won’t last through the summer.
So far, the county has agreed to pay $79,000 for design and bid specifications needed to seek bids on the two projects.
Michael Spring, executive director of the county’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said the county is taking it one step at a time, but agrees roof leaks must be stopped. "It doesn’t make any sense to let the theater deteriorate," he said.
About $3.9 million from performing arts center bonds issued in 1997-98 were set aside for Gusman renovations. But before releasing the funds, county officials want a management agreement with the city to ensure the theater remains open.
"It’s just not good public policy to invest money if the theater is in danger of being closed," Mr. Spring said. The financially strapped city has in the past threatened to sell or close the theater to cut costs. "We want to stabilize the theater’s operations," he said.
Although city and county officials are still months from a management agreement, Mr. Noriega said, the theater needs emergency repairs.
While negotiations on an agreement go on, he said, the county has agreed in principle to pay for roof repairs he estimates will cost $200,000.
He also hopes to persuade the county to advance $800,000 for air-conditioning repairs.
Mr. Spring said he has agreed to review bids for the repair projects. "When you repair the roof, you get into all the duct work for the air-conditioning.