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Plans advance for summer theater building

A Common Council committee moved ahead Tuesday in support of a nonprofit arts group's offer to construct a storage building for summer theater performances in Oak Hill Park.

The Youth and Recreation Committee voted unanimously to forward proposed legislation to the Council for action at its meeting next week.

The Olean Theatre Workshop last summer built a concrete stage in the park where it held several Shakespeare in the Park performances. The storage building will house equipment for future performances and a dressing room for performers.

Supporters said the project will cost the city nothing, but the building will be owned by the city.

"Two grant applications are coming up soon and we need the Council's approval to apply," said Ward 4 Alderwoman Linda Edstrom.

She and Ward 2 Alderman Michael Kayes, co-sponsors of the legislation, said a design will be provided next week prior to the Council vote.

Mayor David J. Carucci said the building will blend in with the Oak Hill Park neighborhood where some homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

The committee also discussed details of a plan to boost food concession sales by removing private vending machines from William O. Smith Recreation Center and replacing some of them with video games.

One pop and one candy machine would remain, along with some video games, and a city-run concession stand could end competition with the vendor and increase prices enough to pay an attendant's wages, members of the committee said.

Edstrom suggested renegotiating the contract to provide more city revenue and to avoid taking private business away from a local vendor.

Recreation Department Office Manager Terry Belli said the current contract with Hamed Vending of Olean has brought in about $1,739 a year from five food machines and $395 on four games. She noted the contract ends in June and the service is due for a new round of public bidding.

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