Broad Theater side­walk plans re­viewed

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Keeler

When the Broad Theater re­opens with seat­ing for al­most 500 peo­ple, two restau­rants and meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties, it could bring a big change to more than just the cor­ner of Broad Street and Wash­ing­ton Av­enue in Soud­er­ton.

“There’s a part of me that says if this theater is suc­cess­ful, that might be the new core of our down­town,” Soud­er­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Brian Goshow said dur­ing dis­cus­sion about the side­walk plans for the theater at the board’s Sept. 10 work ses­sion.

Bor­ough Man­ager Mike Coll said he re­cently met with Broad En­ter­tain­ment Group to go over the side­walk plans.

“They will con­struct the side­walk,” Coll said. “We’re go­ing to have to help them with the de­sign.”

The plans will in­clude a bulb-out area to pro­tect the theater mar­quee from get­ting hit by pass­ing trucks, he said.

Gran­ite curb­ing and other fea­tures al­ready in­stalled on Main Street will be added at the theater as part of the plans, he said.

“It’ll look like the other streetscap­ing projects we did for the most part,” Coll said.

The two main dif­fer­ences be­tween the Main Street and theater side- walks will be that street trees and the dec­o­ra­tive lamp­posts on Main Street will not be re­quired at the theater, coun­cil de­cided.

“Street trees re­ally wouldn’t work right up against the theater, mainly be­cause you’re go­ing to block the theater and the mar­quee,” Coll said.

The pos­si­bil­ity of re­quir­ing street trees only on the Wash­ing­ton Av­enue side of the build­ing was also con­sid­ered, but dropped by coun­cil.

The Wash­ing­ton Av­enue side of the build­ing is also the theater’s exit.

“You get a lot of peo­ple walk­ing there,” Goshow said. “I think you need as much walk­a­ble sur­face there as you can.”

The cur­rently ex­ist­ing street lights will re­main, al­though there is a pos­si­bil­ity the height could be ad­justed, Coll said, and the theater will have out­side lighting at­tached to the build­ing.

The Broad Theater, which was built in 1922, be­gan with live per­for­mances be­fore start­ing to show movies in the 1940s. No re-open­ing date for the theater has been given, but it ap­pears it could be next spring, coun­cil mem­bers said.

It will be Novem­ber un­til some of the side­walk ma­te­ri­als that have to be pur­chased will be re­ceived, Coll said. That will make it late in the year weather-wise for the con-

struc­tion and bor­ough pub­lic works em­ploy­ees as­sist­ing in the work will have other work at that time, such as col­lect­ing leaves, he said.

The theater will do the con­crete work for the side­walks, with the bor­ough pro­vid­ing the spe­cial ad­di­tions such as gran­ite curb­ing and paver blocks. The theater will re­im­burse the bor­ough for the cost of mate- ri­als pro­vided by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The theater will not be re­quired to re­im­burse the bor­ough for the pub­lic works depart­ment la­bor in­volved in the in­stal­la­tion.

7KH WUDI­fiF VLJQDO DW WDVKing­ton Av­enue and Broad Street will not be changed, but there will be side­walk im­prove­ments on all four cor­ners of the in­ter­sec­tion.

The new side­walks on Broad Street will not ex­tend all the way to Penn Av­enue, but de­sign work will be done so the rest of the block can continue the new side­walk in the fu­ture.

A new park­ing lot is planned at Penn Av­enue and Lum­ber Street to help pro­vide park­ing for the theater. Univest is also plan­ning to ex­tend its em­ployee park­ing area be­hind the for­mer Soud­er­ton train sta­tion to free up more ex­ist­ing park­ing spa­ces for the theater, Coll said.

The bor­ough is hop­ing to take over the lease for the train sta­tion prop­erty, re­store the train sta­tion and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing weigh sta­tion and freight build­ings and sub­lease the build­ings to busi­nesses, sim­i­lar to what was done in Telford. The Lo­cal res­tau­rant will re­main in the Soud­er­ton sta­tion un­der the plan.

In Au­gust, Coll told coun­cil the bor­ough was in dan­ger of los­ing a $500,000 U.S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment grant that is planned to pay part of the costs of the restora­tion work be­cause the dead­line for spend­ing that money was ap­proach­ing. This week, though, Coll said that dead­line was for when the con­tract is signed, which hap­pened last year.

“The fund­ing stays in place un­til 2017,” Coll said.

Other state fund­ing won’t re­main avail­able for that long, though, he said.

“WH GH­fiQLWHOy QHHG WR VWDUW mov­ing the project in 2013,” Coll said.

The bor­ough is hop­ing to soon con­clude a lease agree­ment with SEPTA, the prop­erty owner, he said.

In an­other mat­ter at the Sept. 10 meet­ing, coun­cil mem­ber Jeff Gross told the board, “We KDG fivH FKuUFKHV KHUH 6DWuU­day pulling weeds for us.”

The group also did mulching, he said.

Cal­vary Church, of Soud­er­ton; Key­stone Fel­low­ship, of Mont­gomeryville; Lans­dale Im­manuel Church of the Nazarene; Corner­stone Church, of Skip­pack; and Morn­ingstar Fel­low­ship, of Bech­telsville, took part in the cleanup work, he said. Ear­lier this year, other church groups, in­clud­ing groups from out of state, joined Ridge­line Community Church, of Soud­er­ton, in weed­ing and other cleanup work.

“We seem to be get­ting blessed with vol­un­teers from churches this year from out of our town,” Gross said.

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