Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

September 27, 2013

Traverse City officials click heels over theater contract

TRAVERSE CITY — City Commissioner Mike Gillman declared the Traverse City Film Festival will have to pave its proposed yellow brick road through Clinch Park over “my dead body.”

That was before Gillman and other commissioners learned the management agreement they approved with Film Festival officials shows a yellow brick road and language for the Film Festival to maintain it. That same agreement allowed city staff to approve a lighted marquee on the front of the building and shows a building addition to the front of the historic structure.

Commissioners never read the agreement they approved.

“We discussed it and left the nittygritty details up to the city manager,” said Commissioner Jody Bergman. “But I thought it was really clear that any exterior changes would have to come back for commission approval. We never got the agreement back to approve it, which was a big mistake.”

The Traverse City Film Festival spent about $1 million to renovate the vacant Con Foster Museum building in Clinch Park into a movie theater. The proposed “yellow brick road” that five of seven commissioners objected to would be painted on existing sidewalks to lead patrons from the parking lot south of Grandview Parkway through the tunnel to the theater.

“We are trying to create a clever way-finding for the theater instead of just bland sign posts,” said John Robert Williams, a festival co-founder and board member. “It would just be a fun, cool, novel little thing to do.”

Drawings that are part of the agreement also show the building and grounds the film festival will manage including a vestibule -- a type of entrance hall. The vestibule would hold a small ticket booth and a second set of doors to increase energy efficiency.

“I did not agree to a yellow brick road in any way shape or form,” Mayor Michael Estes said. “The commission never even discussed the vestibule. I think (the agreement) included a lot of stuff that the city commission never agreed to. That is a problem.”

Text Only