Old, Rundown Theater Causing Drama In Taunton
City Hall is fighting one of its neighbors in Taunton. It’s a historic theater building that has been deemed to be such a hazard that firefighters have to keep a 24-hour watch on it.
City officials estimated the cost of two round-the-clock fire details will be thousands per week.
“We certainly don’t have money to burn,” says City Council President Deborah Carr.
A narrow alley that separates the theater from City Hall has been shut down to pedestrians and traffic because bricks are falling from the facade.
“We have a beautiful old historic City Hall full of our records. If there were ever a fire here, it would definitely spread to City Hall and the whole block of downtown would be at risk,” says Carr.
The city has been paying for the building’s electricity which powers the fire alarms, but this week, officials pulled the plug on the condemned building. “You’ll be setting a precedent there. Paying for a private person’s electrical bills is not fair,” says Carr.
She says the city will try to get the property owner to compensate the money for the fire watch. She says when Michael O’Donnell bought the property in 2002 and he expressed an interest in renovating the theater.
WBZ visited several of his properties, but was not able to reach him.
Taunton officials say they are considering seizing the property from O’Donnell, by exercising the city’s right of eminent domain.