A Leitchfield city council member wants to form a coalition to help save one of the foundations of Public Square.
The aim is to keep the Alexander Hotel and the Alice Theater, on the northeast corner of the square, from being sold to developers wanting to convert the building into apartments.
Built in 1935 by the Nichols family, the 28-room hotel was named for their son, Alexander, and the 328-seat theater for their daughter Alice. The hotel’s second-floor dining room was a popular spot for business meetings, coffee breaks and family meals.
Over the years the building went through a series of owners, with the last movie screened in 1988. It’s currently owned by the estate of local attorney and former UK basketball player James “Jim” Dinwiddie, who died earlier this year.
During the Monday, Nov. 19, council meeting, Steven Elder said a Facebook page, “Save the Alice Theater & Alexander Hotel,” set up November 12 to discuss the possibility of saving the building for community uses, already has more than 770 “likes.”
He noted Franklin, Glasgow and Hopkinsville have 1930s-era theaters that have been restored for use as live performance venues, movie screenings, meeting spaces and rentals.
Elder said it might be possible to buy the building for about $400,000, with either the city or the Tourism Council — or both — providing the funding. A non-profit organization could be formed to administer the building and to raise funds to renovate it, he said.
Other council members and city officials expressed support for the idea. They agreed to explore meeting with other cities and state officials about ownership, operating and funding options, and to look at cost estimates for some of the needed work.
In other action, the council:
* Heard an update on several projects from Leitchfield Tourism director Ilsa Johnson. She noted that the new splash pad at Firefighters Park near the Ronald Hudson Fire Station, on the city’s north side, will be installed in early spring. It will have a firehouse theme, with four ground bubbler features and two above ground features. There will be no admission or user fees for the splash pad area.
Work continues on the new pavilion at the park as well, she noted. Tourism funds from the city’s restaurant tax are paying for the $166,000 pavilion and the $30,000 splash pad.
Johnson said Tourism is also sponsoring a performance by the South Central Kentucky Kids on the Block on Friday, Nov. 30. Set for 6 to 8:30 p.m., the program at Grayson County Middle School is open to all Grayson County students in kindergarten through eighth grades and their parents. Admission will be one new pair of socks per person.
The program will focus on safety, suicide prevention and anti-bullying messages.
She also noted that filming is expected to begin in the spring on the “Today in America” segment on Leitchfield.
* Discussed city revenues and expenses for the first quarter of the fiscal year — July, August and September. Expenses for the three months were $1.4 million — including more than $340,000 in the general fund — and revenues were $1.2 million, for a deficit of roughly $166,000.
City officials noted many of the expenses were for warm-weather projects such as street patching, and that the revenues didn’t include property taxes. The city generally doesn’t receive property taxes until December.
* Approved requesting proposals for solid waste disposal for the city, to haul waste from Leitchfield’s transfer station to a disposal facility. The contract would be for 10 years, with the possibility of a 10-year extension.