Chappaqua Performing Arts Center is Not a Fruitless Endeavor

The Chappaqua Performing Arts Center (“ChappPAC”) is a new, Town-owned venue at Chappaqua Crossing that is already hosting a wide range of programming for residents of all ages, including concerts, performing arts, movies and educational events.  Click here for our fall schedule:

In 2016, Summit Greenfield donated the ChappPAC facility, and the 1+ acre of land on which it’s located, to the Town for free.  This year, 2017, was essentially ChappPAC’s first season.  Even more programming is planned for 2018.

Before we took office, the outgoing administration had approved a plan which called for the ChappPAC to be demolished.  Had we not intervened to save it, the facility would not exist today.

Our opponents admit that ChappPAC is “nice” but argue that the Town could be spending its money on “other things.”  They claim that the Town accepted the donation without having studied the costs of ownership, didn’t create an adequate business plan for its operation, and makes budgeting decisions “in secret.”  Here are the facts, you decide.

Due diligence. Before accepting the donation, the Town’s Building Inspector went through the facility from top to bottom and issued a written report to the Town Board detailing the condition of the facility.  Click here and here. The Town also retained an outside company to perform a Phase I environmental report. Click here.  We also received input from our Comptroller, Planning Department, and Superintendent of Recreation & Parks. We reached out to other communities which have similar facilities for input.  We knew the historical costs of operating the facility and we identified capital improvements that would be needed in the short and long term.

Our Plan.  We began by putting together a committee of volunteer residents with a wealth of industry experience, resources and expertise.  A preliminary business plan was created (click here) with short and long term goals, many of which have been implemented.  Some highlights of what’s been accomplished so far:

  • The Town issued an RFP for a theatre manager and ultimately contracted with Lighthouse Youth Theatre & Education, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation. Click here.
  • The Town “pays” Lighthouse for its management services by allowing Lighthouse to use the ChappPAC to host a number of its own shows and events. A win-win for the Town.
  • The events held at the ChappPAC are sponsored by promoters who assume the financial risks associated with them. The Town receives income in the form of rental fees for those shows.
  • A separate, non-profit entity has been created by a group of residents to help solicit financial donations and other forms of support for the ChappPAC.

In a very short time, ChappPAC has become a regional destination for music and arts performances and events.  This year, the range of programming and events held at the facility exceeded our goals, and it’s only going to get better.

The Naysayers.  Our opponents have been misleading residents about the costs of operating and maintaining the ChappPAC.  Here are some examples:

They Claim                                                   The Truth

The Town paid $43,283 for a new sound system The Town paid nothing for the sound system.  The New Castle Community Media Center (NCCMC) paid for the entire sound system.
The Town needs to spend $136,000 to repair fascia, gutters and doors The work has been done for $28,516
It will cost $150,000 to repair the roof. The Town has received estimates ranging from $55,000 to $90,000
ChappPAC will cost the Town $70,000 a year to operate The Town has budgeted $70,000 to operate ChappPAC in 2018, but we also expect the facility to generate at least $35,000 near year in the form of rental income and donations.

Let’s put those operating expenses into perspective. In our 2018 budget, we have budgeted $522,185 to maintain our parks and approximately $238,193 for our seniors — neither generates significant income for the Town. Our goal for ChappPAC is making the facility self-sustaining. It’s a true public-partnership that brings together Town, community and business interests and resources.

Transparent Decision-Making.  By law, all of the Town Board’s decisions about expenditures, upgrades and budgeting for the ChappPAC are made at public meetings in a completely transparent manner.  All of that information is publicly available.

Who Do You Trust?  It remains to be seen what our opponents would do with the ChappPAC if elected, but given all of their criticism and attacks, they’ve given residents good reason not to trust them.