FAIR HAVEN – A revolving loan program that is set to expire with $ 30,000 untouched has been saved.
At its June 29 meeting, the board of directors, after an executive session, voted in favor of a loan of $ 30,000 to David Nelson to renovate the third floor of the Playhouse building.
The funds come from the city’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, which was established a few years ago with help from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As no one had requested the funds, the money was to return to the USDA on July 1.
“It saved this program,” City Manager Joe Gunter said.
He said after learning that the funds were going to go back to the USDA spread across the city, a few people applied for it. Nelson was one of two who returned a request. The second was filed by Kandis Charlton, who asked for $ 30,000 to help purchase a barber shop for sale and about to close.
Gunter said the board loaned Nelson the $ 30,000 at the time Charlton applied. The loan will have to be repaid in five years at 0% interest. It can be loaned to others as it is replenished or the fund is increased in other ways.
There is now no risk of the funds going back to the USDA, Gunter said. It remains to be seen whether the board of directors decided to increase the fund itself.
“There has been a bit of talk about expanding the program, but everyone is willing to go until the budget comes up, and when they see $ 20,000 to $ 30,000 to lend, people sometimes have doubts, ”Gunter said. “The budget season begins in October, so we’ll see what the appetite is to add money to this program.”
Gunter said the program is fairly new, starting just before the pandemic hits. After a year without any requests, the city applied for an extension from the USDA and got it.
“USDA, I have to tell you, they worked very closely with us, it was very easy to work with them on this,” Gunter said. “Because of COVID, they knew it would be difficult to get the loan, and they actually gave us a little extension to make sure we could get the loans. “
Nelson said on Tuesday he had owned the Playhouse building for 21 years.
“Nothing is cheaper, but we’ve been trying to bring this theater back to life for many, many years now, and we’re pecking it down little by little,” he said. “This opportunity arose to get matching funds to at least get into the sprinkler system.”
In 2020, it was announced that Nelson had received, through the city, a state grant for strengthening communities of $ 10,000, which he was to match with $ 10,000 of his own funds. Other locals received awards under the same program.
Nelson said that between this program and this loan, he was approaching half of what he would need to install the sprinkler system. The building will also need an emergency staircase and possibly an elevator or lift.
He said the performance hall on the third floor did not have fixed seats but had a stage and a balcony and could accommodate around 250 people.
“The concept I’ve always had is that you could do square dancing on Thursday evenings, and you could do a little play on Friday and Saturday, you could do a buffet lunch on Sunday, rather than dedicate it to one type of place, you can offer it to all kinds of people, ”Nelson said.
The gambling den was last used as such in the 1940s, he believes. A lot of people in town don’t know that.