JOLIET – The Rialto Marquee Advisory Committee decided Monday to recommend something old and something new.
“1926 look – LED board,” committee member Dan Vera said, summing up what the committee wants the Rialto Square Theatre board to consider.
The committee agreed it liked the look of an image shared by member Michael Morgan showing how the Rialto marquee that exists would look with some digital updating.
The only thing is that the Rialto already has spent nearly $200,000 for a completely different marquee that now is sitting in pieces at Landmark Sign Group’s production facility in Indiana.
The committee is recommending that the Rialto board either have that sign redesigned so it looks like the one already on the theater in downtown Joliet or update the marquee that is there now.
“The main thing is we’ve gone from what we call a circus marquee to an authentic marquee,” Morgan said.
Morgan is a member of the “Rialto Belongs to the People” group that was formed in opposition to the unfinished marquee. Critics said it was too gaudy and did not like the memorial to donor Ed Czerkies’ parents that was to be displayed prominently.
The opposition compelled the Rialto board to reconsider the design.
Czerkies eventually decided to take his money – $350,000 – back, but the Rialto already is on the hook for the cost of the marquee.
The committee was formed as a fact-finding group that would help the Rialto board solicit public opinion and recommend a solution to its marquee problem.
“All I know is there’s a bunch of parts lying in a parts yard that we have to pay for,” said committee member Steve Randich, also a member of the Rialto Square Theatre Foundation that raises money for the theater. “What are we going to do with the sign? Are we going to pay him the money, say throw it away and start over?”
Vera, who also is vice chairman of the Rialto board, said a Landmark representative told him Monday afternoon that the sign can be adapted but it could cost an additional $18,000.
“An updated sign would have been so much less expensive than what you have proposed,” Joliet resident Marianne Nelsen said, suggesting the existing marquee could have been touched up at a fraction of the cost.
Opponents to the proposed marquee generally favored keeping the existing sign, saying it is a close replica to what was on the Rialto when it opened in 1926.
The plan is to have a report from the committee with its recommendations available to the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, the board that oversees the Rialto, for its next meeting on April 22.