City helping BLT raise new curtain in life of The Haven

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 25, 2006

Brookhaven aldermen are moving forward with a plan that couldhelp a longtime attraction remain an important part ofdowntown.

Last week’s vote by the board to prepare a preservationordinance opens the door for Brookhaven Little Theatre to continuepursuit of a grant to renovate and restore The Haven Theater.

For BLT to be eligible for the grant through the Department ofArchives and History, Brookhaven must agree to become a CertifiedLocal Government Community. The preservation ordinance is the firststep in the process that will also include creation of a historicpreservation commission, designation of a historic preservationdistrict and re-evaluation of city activities every four years.

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Through their “Save The Haven” campaign, BLT leaders andvolunteers have been diligent in their pursuit of funding for themajor restoration effort. Locally generated funds will be used as20 percent matching money for a $400,000 grant.

The community theater organization is able to continue producingplays and occasionally host other functions at The Haven, which wasonce a movie theater before it became home to BLT.

However, help is needed for the building to remain an integralpart of the downtown landscape. The building is in need of a newroof, its electrical system must be updated and other upgrades arewarranted.

A cash infusion in the form of a $400,000 state grant wouldprovide a major boost to BLT’s building restoration plans. Thegrant would be primarily be for the roof and building’s facade, butother work will still be needed.

Brookhaven has a growing reputation as a community that supportsthe arts. BLT’s plans, along with the city’s assistance, willhopefully raise the curtain on a new chapter in the life of thehistoric Haven.