Com­mis­sion­ers ap­prove loan for new the­ater

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By JACK RODGERS jrodgers@thekent­coun­

CHESTERTOWN — The Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers agreed Tues­day to pro­vide re­volv­ing loan funds to a group that wants to bring a movie the­ater back to Chestertown. Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino and Bryan Matthews, vice pres­i­dent for KRM De­vel­op­ment, spoke to the com­mis­sion­ers about bring­ing a movie the­ater back to town. Cerino said that Washington Square plaza owner Sil­i­cato De­vel­op­ment had been work­ing with mem­bers of the Chestertown Eco­nomic Vi­tal­ity Com­mit­tee and the po­ten­tial own­ers Ch­e­sa­peake Movies Inc. to open a new the­ater. Chestertown’s pre­vi­ous movie house, Ch­ester 5 The­atres, closed last year. Cerino said ren­o­va­tions be­gan last fall on the the­ater. He said Ch­e­sa­peake Movies Inc. told mem­bers of the com­mit­tee they would be short about $75,000 to com­plete ren­o­va­tions. Ch­e­sa­peake Movies Inc. had ap­proached the town about a loan, how­ever, Cerino said $75,000 is a lot of money for Chestertown’s bud­get. Cerino said be­cause of the re­volv­ing loan fund the county al­ready has in place, the com­mis­sion­ers could front the money to com­plete ren­o­va­tions on the the­ater. Then, with money gen­er­ated by the the­ater to Chestertown through an amuse­ment tax, the town would pay back the county. “The size of the loan is a lit­tle bit unique. The amuse­ment tax makes it re­ally, re­ally unique, in a good way though. That’s what makes it at­trac­tive to us,” Cerino said. Matthews said that the ad­di­tion of 10 to 15 new jobs for the county if the the­ater opens shouldn’t be over­looked. He said the eco­nomic im­pact would be an ad­di­tional $300,000 with the new po­si­tions.

Wil­liam Pick­rum, pres­i­dent of the com­mis­sion­ers, sought a guar­an­tee from the town that the loan would be re­paid. Cerino said he couldn’t en­tirely guar­an­tee it. “I think that’s some­thing that we’d have to dis­cuss when this deal gets con­sum­mated. I think that we could guar­an­tee that we could for­ward the amuse­ment tax to you guys,” Cerino said. Michael Klein, pres­i­dent of Ch­e­sa­peake Movies Inc., said the the­ater would add en­rich­ment to the com­mu­nity. He said he talked with high school and col­lege stu­dents about free show­ings at the the­ater, so they could write their own movie re­views. Klein also said that if the loan from the county was not re­paid by the amuse­ment tax within three years, Ch­e­sa­peake Movies Inc. would pay back the loan in to­tal. Com­mis­sioner Ron Fithi- an said that in the past, the com­mis­sion­ers have loaned money with­out see­ing a pos­i­tive re­sult in the com­mu­nity. He said that in this in­stance, he thought the deal was good. “I’m per­son­ally will­ing to take a chance on this busi­ness,” Fithian said. “I see it as a busi­ness that’s not go­ing to help just a few peo­ple, but has the abil­ity to maybe help ev­ery­body in Kent County that likes go­ing to the movies.” The com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved the loan.


At Tues­day’s Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing, Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino of­fers his sup­port for a county loan to a group work­ing to bring a movie the­ater back to town.

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