Cobleskill rallies around Park Theatre sign

Cobleskill rallies around Park Theatre sign
By Jim Poole

Gone for months, the Park Theatre sign may be back as a Cobleskill landmark if there’s enough public support. And even public support may not do it. Questions abound about what many consider part of Cobleskill’s history: Whether theatre owner Tom Nigro wants it back, the restoration cost, who’ll be responsible for liability and maintenance, and where it will stand. Tim Snyder, a board member for the downtown advocacy group Cobleskill Partnership Inc., suggested restoring the sign as a CPI project. Mr. Nigro said he had the sign, then in poor condition, taken down in late May after “a windstorm had it swaying back and forth.” And although the sign stood at the corner of Park Place and South Grand Street since the mid ’50s, few noticed it was gone at first. But then Greg Furlong and Gary Morgan saw the red-and-white sign on the back of James Morrell’s scrap metal truck and bought it from him for $100, Mr. Snyder said. “Greg called me and said, ‘I think we have something you’ll want to know about,’ ” said Mr. Snyder, who’s active in the Town of Cobleskill Historical Society. “A lot of people remember that sign and want to see it back,” he added. The sign and its stand now rest at the Historic Treasures building at the Cobleskill Fairgrounds. CPI board members are considering taking on the project and raising funds for its restoration. Still to be determined, however, is the cost; Mr. Nigro said an estimate he got “was over $20,000”––another reason he had it taken down. Also, Mr. Nigro said, he’s concerned about paying for liability and maintenance if the sign returns to its natural place in front of the theater. He added that although he no longer owns the sign, he would have to assume the costs if it returned to his property. CPI or possibly the Village of Cobleskill could assume responsibility for maintenance and insurance. About eight years ago, the village took over maintenance of the Community Plaza at the corner of Main and Division streets, which was a CPI project. Mayor Linda Holmes, who also favors the sign’s return, wondered about future costs. Convincing village trustees to take on the expense would be necessary, she said. Whether the public would contribute to restore a business’s sign that would stand on private property is also a question. But Mr. Snyder pointed out that residents in the past contributed to many CPI projects on private property: the Robin Hood Flour sign, and CPI’s façade improvement program for businesses, for instance. “And it’s not just Cobleskill,” Mr. Snyder said. “People from all over the county came here to go to the movies. It was the only theater around.” Mike Piccolo, the village codes officer, agreed that because of its historic significance, the sign should probably go up. But that also depends on Mr. Nigro’s okay, costs and the other issues, Mr. Piccolo said. Because it’s in the historic district, the sign could be restored but not altered, Mr. Piccolo said. The next steps are to get a firm restoration estimate and work out maintenance and liability issues, if possible, Mr. Snyder said. “If the cost is prohibitive, it won’t go up,” he said.

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