Several groups have tried to stage efforts to restore the auditorium over the years, but nothing ever gained any traction. So, Bowie City Councilors recently decided to tear down the building that was built in 1928.
Despite efforts to save the auditorium building many times, the building has not seen any improvements or maintenance in the last 20 years. Bowie mayor Gaylynn Burris said it comes down to finances.
“When I became mayor, I thought let's find out how much it's going to cost,” Burris said. “Is it even cost effective for us to take it down? We put out for bids and it is cost effective. It's going to come down by itself or it's going to come down with some help. It doesn't meet any ADA compliance. It's several million dollars to rehab it.”
Now that the decision has been made to demolish the building, Burris says there are some people who are unhappy about it.
“I have not gotten a lot of that,” Burris said. “I understand there has been some and I understand. I was there 20 plus years ago when we wanted to save it and I helped clean it up but there was still no commitment from the city.”
But not all residents are sad to see the old auditorium go.
“I played there when I was a kid, all my life. No, it's terrible. It's old. In terrible shape. Anyway, they need to do something better,” said Dallas Hudson a Bowie resident since 1945.
“I think they probably should because I think it's probably unrepairable now. If they can utilize the property that would be great,” said Janet Croxton, a Montague County resident
There are some ideas being tossed around on how the lot could be used in the future.
“We'll bring it down and level it off for a parking lot,” Burris said. “We don't have any parking downtown to speak of. As you know we have a couple of restaurants in the downtown area. It will help the emergence and it will be good for parking in this area. I would like to have in that area also a public restroom put in. There is grant money out for things like that.”
Burris said those funds could help pave the way to meeting some of the needs of the city, a place that will soon look different for the first time in almost a century. Burris said there will be a final test to check for asbestos before signing the contract to have it torn down. Once that happens it will be torn down within 90 days of signing the contract.
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