Supporters of saving the theater at Brook Run Park made a dramatic last-gasp appeal to the Dunwoody City Council at its Oct. 24 meeting to save the building from being bulldozed possibly as soon as this week.
More than 20 supporters of saving the theater and having it renovated into a performing arts and community center filed up the center aisle of the city council chambers and dropped checks into a manila envelope held by Danny Ross, president of the Brook Run Conservancy.
Ross said in an email after the meeting that more than $114,000 was raised by 24 people ranging in age from 3 to 85.
Ross asked people to attend the council meeting and make the donations in response to Councilmember’s Doug Thompson’s quote in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about the theater saga that, “If a check came in tomorrow from an outside person, we’d have us a new theater.”
“Imagine in one night — and the fundraising has not yet begun. Just think what can happen if we could all work together,” Ross said in an email sent to the City Council after the Oct. 24 meeting and provided to the Reporter.
“There is support in the entire community for this endeavor. And there is also anger in our community that you have made this decision without ever asking a single question or given one reason why you are rushing to demolish this building,” Ross stated in the email. “[Monday night’s] show of support is only the beginning of what could happen — if only you would allow it.”
The council voted in July to bulldoze the theater and last month approved spending up to $227,000 to demolish the building. Contractors are currently removing asbestos from the site and plans are to tear down the building possibly as soon as this week.
Historical stained glass windows from the theater building’s chapel were removed in the past two weeks and are being stored for potential future use.
“I beg you to please not to tear it down,” Ross said at the council meeting. “Please, please, don’t tear that building down.”
Ross said the money would be returned to donors if the theater is torn down. “These are considered restricted funds and can only be used for the purpose they were donated for,” he said.
City Council members did not discuss the issue with Ross at the meeting. In the past, however, some have said they didn’t believe the park was the right place for a community theater. Others have said that because no money was ever raised to save the building in the years-long effort to preserve it that they could not justify saving it.