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Derry Town Council renews lease on Opera House

DERRY — The Derry Arts Council will continue its use of the Opera House at the Adams Memorial Building on West Broadway for at least another three years.

The Town Council recently approved the lease renewal for the Arts Council, as well as the Greater Derry/Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and the Derry Housing Authority.

The three organizations have been tenants-at-will at the building since the beginning of the year. Despite some concerns related to parking near the building, several town councilors said they hope the Arts Council will work to bring more events to the Opera House and serve as an economic engine for the downtown.

Councilor Brad Benson said the council held several workshop meetings with the Arts Council and discussed ways it could increase participation in events and use the facility better.

“We were talking about using the property more, which would attract more people downtown, which would obviously help the downtown,” said Benson. “I don’t know if we ever completed any of that, because we ran into all the parking discussions. We kind of walked away and said, OK, we have a parking problem and need to talk about that more.”

Town Administrator John Anderson said that since the workshop meetings, the Arts Council has more effectively met its goals for use of the building.

He added that without a long-term lease, it was difficult for the Arts Council to draw annual events to the facility.

Councilor Neil Wetherbee voted to renew the lease but said he did have some reservations because of unresolved issues involving the lack of parking and the frequency of events at the building.

“The goal has always been to increase the utilization there,” said Wetherbee. “I understand the management has changed, and they have tried some different things. I’m sympathetic to their needs, and if they need three years to be viable, it’s kind of a chicken and egg thing.”

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