Last week, Community Service Area 36 member Kathy Wilson released the results of the public-opinion survey about the future of Town Hall. Wilson and others solicited comments from local residents earlier this month, while seated outside the Post Office in Strawberry Creek Plaza.
Of the 150 surveys completed, Wilson said 42 were willing to help at Town Hall or with labor. Another 20 promised financial help. Only four, less than 3 percent, were not in support of rescuing the 70-year old fixture.
According to Wilson, more than half the respondents would like to see Town Hall continued to be used for community purposes until a new venue is available.
The most frequent suggestion was to use the structure for “community events” and children’s activities. More specifically, many respondents recommended or encouraged its future use as a “performing arts building for the two professional theater companies in need of a venue that could be shared.” Plays and concerts were mentioned often in the surveys.
Another frequent suggestion was a location for dance classes — ballroom, line or children’s.
A few people continue to want to see the traditional events, such as the Harvest Festival and the Quilt Show, return to Town Hall. And several parents are dependent on the afterschool program continuing.
Wilson has shared the survey documents with the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board, overseeing the new Idyllwild Community Center. Board President Janice Lyle said, “The SJMCC board, along with the Programs and Activities Committee, will review the surveys and include that input in their analysis of community desires as they plan future recreation programs.”
Although four respondents were not supportive of maintaining the facility at any cost, this comment summarizes the prevalent sentiment and recognizes the changes needed to make it into a functional facility for local events:
“Our Town Hall has been our historical meeting hall since Ernie Maxwell’s days. It would be a shame to toss out its aspect as part of mountain culture. It needs a makeover — the stage needs stairs on either side, a back room or basement for an offstage room for a scrim and most especially taking off that awful ceiling and replacing with great sound acoustical tiles.”
And as another respondent said, “I cannot imagine not having the Town Hall involved in our community. We need it, it’s part of Idyllwild.”