Other cities redevelop old theatres - why can't we?

I’ve just returned from my first visit to New York. We spent the week on Manhattan Island and still didn’t see all the sites.

What I did see was the restoration of many small theatres and the building of skyscrapers around these theatres.

I ask the question, how can the New York architects and politicians find ways to build around and save these old theatres and keep them in the city’s inventory, when the architects and politicians here in New Westminster can’t find a way to save Massey Theatre?

I took in a show at the Broadway Theater built in 1924—now surrounded by a skyscraper. Saw The David Letterman Show at the old Ed Sullivan Theater, built in 1927, which still has the cast-iron ticket booth in the lobby, surrounded by a skyscraper.

And I saw many more theatres saved from the wrecking ball.

Residents of New West want a new high school—and sooner, not later.

And many are concerned with the possible burial sites under the Pearson wing of the high school.

But getting back to New York…

Manhattan was home to the Lenni-Lanape Nation of Indians, and was bought from them by the Dutch for approximately 60 guilder.

The First Nations are not forgotten in Manhattan—the name itself is a derivative of a Munsee Indian name Manna-hata. New York has the National Museum of the American Indian right on the island.

New Westminster has put up $6 million to the school district for added seating capacity in the new theatre to be incorporated into the new school.

Why can’t we build around the Massey Theatre, saving the cost to build a new theatre, retaining all the fly system and backstage space (not in the new plans) needed to put on noteworthy events and shows and take the $6 million from the city and build a space dedicated to the history and people from the past, at the Pearson wing.

The Pearson site has had an army base and high school on that ground for many years.

There may not be anything left to find on the site.

Have an archaeologist and First Nations on site and collect what is found.

New Westminster could have the only space in the Lower Mainland dedicated to preserving the First Nations language, literature, history and art, and give the students a place to study New Westminster’s First Nations history.

Bill Radbourne

New Westminster

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