Sunday, February 25, 2001

Store offers park options

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — It's hardly a pretty building, the cinder-block Goodwill store on Mechanic Street, in a block that may soon be a park.

        But the Lebanon Theatre Company sees sets and actors and audiences where the city sees parking spaces.

        “We're very excited about the possibility of having a space that's dedicated to theater,” theater Vice President Wayne Dunn said Saturday.

Lebanon's planning commission will meet 7:30 p.m. March 6 to decide what it would like to see in Bicentennial Park. The board will make a recommendation to City Council, which will make the final decision.
        The group's hope of using the building was raised this week as the city planning commission heard from residents about plans for a Bicentennial Park.

        The park will occupy a block bound by Main, Mechanic, Cherry and Mulberry streets, near the heart of historic downtown Lebanon. So far the only consensus is that it include a band shell and public bathrooms.

        A consultant for the city has sketched two options that include those items plus about 80 parking spaces, a grassy area and a gazebo.

        The Goodwill building would make way for parking.

        But Sandra Reynolds, planning commission chairwoman, is inclined to agree that a theater space might better serve the community.

        “I'd hate to sacrifice a really good building for 10, maybe 12 parking spaces,” Mrs. Reynolds said.

        City Councilman Mark Flick is aboard, too: “It's an ideal location.”

        A theater would enable the 6-year-old Lebanon Theatre Company to stop renting from the Shoe Factory — an antique mall — and Lebanon High School.

        The Goodwill building, about 7,500 square feet, could easily hold 200 to 250 seats, Mr. Dunn said. The building also could be used for other events, he said.

        Another question is whether to keep a city-owned Queen Anne house on the site. The Lebanon Conservancy Foundation wants it to remain, but Planning Director Marty Kohler said that would cramp the band shell. Other options: razing or moving the house.

        The intention had been to finish Bicentennial Park by the city's bicentennial — 2002 — but that's unlikely, Mr. Kohler acknowledged.

        The city may have to settle instead for building the band shell and the bathrooms first and finishing the park later, Mr. Kohler said.


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