Nickled and dimed in Breck? |

Nickled and dimed in Breck?

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council last week reluctantly agreed to spend an additional $66,000 toward improvements at Shamus O’Toole’s Roadhouse Saloon, which is being renovated into a community center and theater.

The expenditure brings to $316,000 the amount the town has allocated to the project – not including the more than $1 million spent to acquire the building. The expense has left some council members wondering if the money would have been better spent razing the building and starting over.

“I’d rather do this right,” said Councilmember J.B. Katz. “I feel in the end we will have spent enough to do it right – not a Vilar Center, but a Riverwalk Center.”

Council members originally allocated $250,000 to bring the building up to code and present it, as a shell, to the Backstage Theatre and other nonprofit organizations for use as a community center. The Backstage Theatre’s lease at the Village of Breckenridge was not renewed last fall, leaving the troupe without a venue in which to perform. The group roamed the county last winter, performing plays in other theaters, inns and lodges while trying to locate a more permanent venue.

Renovation, for which the town allocated $250,000, included replacing electricity, heating and lighting systems, sewer and water lines, flooring and tile; painting; patching the roof; replacing doors and installing drywall and a fire sprinkler system, said Town Engineer Eric Guth.

Backstage officials plan to bring their 98 seats to the building, build a stage and dressing room, and provide theater lighting and curtains.

But now, other nonprofit officials say they would like more, in the form of a projection room for films, a ventilation system, retractable seating, more insulation, a remodel of the building’s facade, acoustical tiles and improvements to south-side windows.

Backstage Artistic Director Jeremy Cole told Guth the theater group might be able to raise the money for the theatrical lighting, sound and projection room, but not until November. He proposed the town cover the costs and the theater reimburse it later.

Windows in the building were never framed into the walls, Guth said, and to remove them would cost about $5,000. Once the decision was made not to remove the windows, the proposal to add acoustic tile also was abandoned, he said.

A projection booth, with a $6,000 price tag, would include interior walls, projection glass, shelves, floors and mechanical and electrical infrastructure. Theater representatives said they’d also like an improved heating system – and one that includes air conditioning, not merely a swamp cooler, as is proposed.

Retractable seating, which could be removed when not in use, would provide flexibility for different kinds of performances, Guth said. And an additional $5,000 to $15,000 is needed to improve the facade by replacing windows, replace the steps and install signs.

Once a Cultural Arts Master Plan for the 100 block of South Ridge Street is complete, the committee would like to have the parking lot paved, the building resided, the roof replaced and landscaping and air conditioning installed, Guth said.

“This brings us close to $300,000 for something we thought was temporary,” Katz said. “I’m afraid that by piecemealing this, we’re spending bad money after good. In the end, this will have cost just as much to do something, not A-quality, but B-plus – something that works for everybody.”

Council members also debated whether they should have forged ahead with renovations when they have yet to develop the master plan. Others wondered if it would be better to stop the project and wait until the master plan is developed.

For Councilmember Dave Hinton, it was the right decision.

“The reason we didn’t want to wait two or three years for a master plan was because we didn’t want to lose the Backstage,” he said, referring to the possibility the theater might have had to close without a venue. “That was a big motivating factor for me.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

Latest Costs for Improvements

Theatrical lighting, sound system $20,000

Windows $5,000

Acoustic treatment $6,000 to $15,000

Projection room $6,000

Retractable seating $13,000 to $30,000

Insulation $5,000

Entryway remodel $5,000 to $15,000

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