On behalf of the Hall family, I wish to express our gratitude to the efforts of the selectmen and the understanding of well-wishers in our efforts to try to preserve intact the outer shell of the Island Theater so that longer term plans can be assessed without the need for a straight demolition. The tale of woes of our efforts to get the roof repaired and our horror at the decisions made (when cracks in the walls that arose from the original design and materials of the building became known) to declare the building unsafe and in need of immediate repair and demolition will not further the needs or wishes of anyone.

Mistakes were made all around, and we are not without our share, for which we apologize. We have not meant to harm anyone, and it pains us that there has been an impression we have thumbed our noses at our fellow Islanders. The building is very old and was built with materials that were destined to start to fail over time no matter how one maintained the building. We can only look forward to trying to make decisions that really benefit the entire community in the longer term. We support the town’s efforts to find a solution that stabilizes the building to satisfy the town and state officials so that further plans for its future use can be assessed. That said, the town recently hired an engineer to design a solution to simply hold the walls and roof in place to address concerns of the wall strength found by prior structural engineers. We had been looking at solutions involving stabilizing the walls but had not the foresight to address the issues as elegantly as the town engineer.

The plan is not a permanent solution and does not assure the building can or should be saved in its entirety, but it’s a sound interim measure that would then allow for the outside skin to be painted and trim repairs made while future planning continues. It does call for an expensive use of steel that cannot be repurposed for a new structural frame. The funds expended in that solution would be exhausted. Seeing the $200,000 warrant article was alarming. We sought other opinions. In seeing the simplicity of that plan, our own engineer has planned an equally effective but less costly mode of construction using cables rather than structural steel. These cables accomplish the same engineering result and allow the ability to perform work inside and outside the building as would the town’s engineered plan. At press time, we await cost estimates. While we have budgeted sums that we believe will cover the costs of our much less costly plan, which, if performed privately, outside of the public bidding on construction costs, would likely save money all around, we do urge you to vote the sum requested for preserving the building, and not vote with those who would simply want to raze the building.

We prefer to do the work privately without incurring any public funds, which is the much less expensive route. However, by voting the funding, which does not obligate your selectmen to actually spend it, your selectmen will have the ability to complete some form of the stabilizing solution if we fail to do so in a timely manner. Our current understanding of the statutes would impose upon the building owner the costs for these repairs anyway. We firmly believe that demolishing the building would not now serve the longer term best interests of our community. Thank you for your incredible patience with the frustrating efforts to resolve the immediate crisis.

Benjamin L. Hall Jr.