John F. Kennedy once stated; “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.”
In 2010, the Mayor and Council passed a Resolution to provide funds for capital improvements to the Old City Hall also known as the Opera House. Since that time more than 1.8 million dollars has been raised for that endeavor. The City along with the Opera House Foundation continues on this quest to secure funding to complete the Opera House and allow it operate as a cultural arts center not only for the citizens of Havre de Grace but also of Harford County and beyond.
The Mayor and City Council agree that to bring the Cultural Arts Center into fruition sooner than later is vital to the revitalization of our City and both economically as well as for the improvement of the quality of life for each of us. We should proactively focus our attention and interests on downtown NOW as we face the certainty of change related to our largest business – UMUCH by 2020. We must pursue the creation of anchor properties by proactively utilizing municipal properties for those anchors as opposed to waiting in hope that privately owned properties will come into our City. We must take the lead if we have a chance to retain a vibrant downtown City.
Every 6-8 month period that passes until completion of the Opera House causes our renovation costs to rise exponentially by 5 to 8%. We are proposing acquiring a loan in the amount of 2.1 million dollars to reach our goal which could be obtainable in less than 12 months. Or we can continue the path of funding that we are on and we may not realize a completed project for five or more years. Construction costs increases every year and every year that we do not complete this project causes the overall costs to complete the project to increase. The carrying costs, or interest for this loan would be $199,300 per year for fifteen years. Currently the City contributes $250,000 per year towards this endeavor and is committed to do so until completed. In addition the City solicits and has received support from the State and will continue to do so even after a loan is secured so as to repay the loan.
The completion of a public arts center on Union Avenue is compatible and complimentary with the investment Harford County and HCPL has made in our City with the new library opening in May, 2016.