On a night when Streator High School board members approved the issuing of bonds to pay for an auditorium restoration, they also received a presentation Tuesday from their architect on what it might look like.
The design isn't finalized.
The project will include double-door entrances to limit light and sound from coming into the auditorium as people enter or exit during performances. Modern acoustics, lighting and dressing rooms also highlighted the project.
Historical design would be kept intact.
Most of the conversation, however, from board members centered around how much seating is necessary against a proposal of adding two meeting rooms in the back of the auditorium.
Roughly 365 seats on the ground floor will curve around a stage and 140 more will remain in the balcony. The upper portion of the balcony will be closed off for mechanical and storage use. It was deemed too unsafe to put in seating.
Under these plans, the auditorium's seating would go from a capacity of 1,100 to 500 if meeting rooms are kept, or about 650 if meeting rooms are taken out.
The initial plan intended the auditorium to hold half of the student body. The highest attendance for a school performance was roughly 400, said Superintendent Matt Seaton.
The new auditorium figures to attract performances from outside the school.
The meeting rooms were initially proposed, along with a newly constructed $1.1 million reception room equipped with eating areas, as part of a possible intergovernmental agreement with the city of Streator. The area would be used for conferences from groups outside of the school.
That idea received mixed reaction from board members, leading Seaton to recommend the board listen to the city's plans, but reiterating to them "the district will do what's in the best interest of its students."
"We're an education facility; we have to do what's best for our kids first," said board member Willy Williamson.
"I agree, it also brings up security issues for me having people here from outside of our building, and I don't like losing that much green space in the courtyard," said board member Bill Darrow.
Board members Rich Tutoky, Jim Farr and Steve Biroschik said the district should not pass up a possible opportunity without at least listening to the proposal.
Seaton said he had not received information on how much the city would give toward the project at this point.
Asbestos abatement alone for the roughly $8 million project is estimated at about $504,000, but costs are tentative as design plans change.
The board approved $10 million to borrow, which sets only a ceiling for what it may use, but it doesn't have to commit to that amount. Seaton said the board will be able to borrow the money without a property tax rate increase.
Seaton said the board could have its money by August, which it will have three years to spend, then put the project to bid by December. If the timeline stays on track, groundbreaking could begin around the end of next school year.