To the Editor:
The Robert Stanton Theater (also known as the KCHS auditorium) was regarded as something of a dinosaur when I arrived in town more than 50 years ago. Almost losing the place due to neglect and disrepair in the 1980s changed perceptions.
People now understand that it is more than a local treasure, more than a county treasure, more than a state treasure. Its uniqueness was acknowledged by its designation as a national historic building. Beyond the priceless Jo Mora sculptures that decorate its walls and façade, its stage is a world-class venue for performances and concerts of all kinds. Taking care of the place is a civic responsibility for every person in South County.
However, this is easier said than done. The building requires complex and ongoing care. South Monterey County Joint Union High School District and SoMoCo Center for the Performing Arts have forged a partnership and embraced the task. We are working together to address the Stanton’s needs.
Most recently, high school officials prioritized local property taxes designated for facility improvement to needed projects in the Stanton’s interior. Simplification of the lighting system, a new sound system, safety measures for the stage’s locking rail and custom shelves for the lighting booth at the summit of the balcony. Completion of these projects is imminent. Other projects, including improved handicapped access to the stage, are under consideration by the high school board.
Covid has complicated the work, as has construction of the wonderful new agricultural science complex. Construction disruptions and loss of close-proximity parking between the two facilities, old and new, have caused worries and frustrations. Allow me to offer a few facts.
The old parking lot upon which the new building impinges contained 79 parking places. The re-structured lot (to be completed prior to Thanksgiving) will contain 34 places, a loss of 45. City officials have offered some mitigations and all responsible parties await suggestions from concerned citizens. Reconfigured parking on the west side of North Mildred? A drop-off zone in front of the Stanton? Please contact me with any ideas you have and I’ll convey them to all the folks in a position to address the problem.
It’s up to all of us to work together and ease or solve the problems I’ve mentioned. It’s up to all of us to insure that both the Stanton and the agricultural science facility will enhance young people’s lives for generations to come.
President, SoMoCo Center for the Performing Arts
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