JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre board formed a 12-member committee Wednesday to come up with a solution to the theater’s marquee problem – hopefully by March.
The committee was formed at a meeting at which the Rialto board might have received a check for $350,000 to take care of its marquee problem. But the pending offer from businessman Jay Bergman fell apart last week when Rialto leaders decided the marquee solution needed to be reached in a public forum.
“We couldn’t circumvent the public process. We just couldn’t do it,” said James Smith, chairman of the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority board that oversees the Rialto.
Smith said he hoped the Rialto could talk with Bergman about the donation later. Bergman, contacted after the meeting, said that was not likely.
“I never say never but it’s very unlikely,” Bergman said, “because my reason for making this contribution was to get this issue behind us.”
Bergman’s $350,000 proposal came after previous donor Ed Czerkies pulled a $350,000 donation because of the ongoing marquee controversy, which included objections to his parents’ names being placed on the sign.
Bergman did not ask for any recognition on the marquee. But the modern marquee already in production would have likely gone forward largely as is. Rialto General Manager Randy Green said that $197,000 worth of work has been done on the marquee and it is 75 percent completed.
Green said the marquee committee should be able to focus attention in ways that the full Rialto board could not. He said he hoped a recommendation would come by late March.
Two of the leaders of the marquee opposition will be on the new committee – Mary Beth Gannon and Michael Morgan from the “Rialto Belongs to the People” group.
The committee will be co-chaired by Chris Clott, dean of the College of Business and Health Administration at the University of St. Francis, and Eveann Lovero, professor and chair of the Department of Business Administration at Lewis University.
Other members include: Daniel Vera and Vicki Murphy from the Rialto board; Steve Randich and Jeffrey Hettrick from the board of Rialto Square Theatre Foundation; and Rialto volunteers Cathy Cecchi and Mike Acosta.
To Joliet City Council members to be named later also will be appointed to the board by Mayor Tom Giarrante.
While the board creates more public involvement in the process of determining the future of the marquee, it did not make everyone happy at the meeting.
“It seems like you’re trying to divert the problem to some side committee,” said Brian Nelsen of Joliet told the board at the meeting.
Charlie Sullivan of Bolingbrook, who has a business in Joliet, questioned the academicians put at the head of the committee.
“We seem to have two business people rather than a historian,” he said.