By Jim Tortolano
The suggestion that management of the city-owned Rose Center Theater be changed led to a sometimes-testy confrontation at Wednesday’s meeting of the Westminster City Council, but wound down into the establishing of a committee to study the issue.
After testimony from several members of the Friends of the Rose Center and discussion of the issue among council members, a motion to appoint a committee of council members Tyler Diep and Sergio Contreras was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Margie Rice dissenting.
At issue was an item on the agenda – placed there by Diep – calling for the issuing of requests for proposals to run the 400-seat facility located on All American Way adjacent to the Westminster Civic Center.
“My point is that if a group is going to operate a city-owned facility and receive a subsidy from the city, they have to be flexible,” said Diep. The city spends an estimated $70,000 a year toward the theater operation.
But others saw it as an unwarranted attack on the Friends group, a non-profit agency that runs the theater, partially with volunteer help.
Diana Carey, recently a member of the city council and currently a vice president of the Friends of Rose Center group, fired back. “I have personally investigated each complaint and found them to be baseless,” she said. She criticized Diep for not consulting with Friends before placing the item on the agenda. “We deserve your support, not your derision.”
During the discussion, it was revealed that the contractual agreement with the city prohibits the Friends from approving discounted terms from renters. Finally, City Manager Eddie Manfro stepped in and suggested that the 12-year contract “had gotten stale” and perhaps it was time for all parties to meet and make revisions.
That let to the motion on the committee, but not before Rice warned that if the Friends were removed as operators, it would remove the piano and other items it purchased. “They don’t belong to the city,” said Rice.