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Local News

Rialto in Joliet seeks marquee bids; final price unknown

The Rialto Square Theater's marquee. The Rialto's board is considering updating the existing marquee rather than moving ahead with a new sign that was stopped in mid-production after community opposition to its design.
The Rialto Square Theater's marquee. The Rialto's board is considering updating the existing marquee rather than moving ahead with a new sign that was stopped in mid-production after community opposition to its design.

JOLIET – The final bill for the Rialto Square Theatre marquee is still being tabulated.

But the price tag is headed toward $237,000 – and possibly higher – as the Rialto board looks at updating the existing marquee rather than moving ahead with a new sign that was stopped in mid-production after community opposition to its design.

The Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, the board that oversees the Rialto, last week voted to seek bids on work needed to use the existing marquee.

Executive Director Randy Green told them the update will cost at least $40,000, according to a quote he received from Landmark Sign Group. The price covers the cost of installing electronics in the existing marquee, but not the entire cost of updating the sign.

The board did not make a final decision to restore the old sign but took steps in that direction.

Some good news for advocates of keeping the existing marquee is the existing sign can be updated with a new electronics board.

“They [Landmark] said, yes, it could be accommodated and modified for that board,” Green said.

The $40,000 cost of the electronics update comes on top of the $197,000 bill for the unfinished marquee stopped in mid-production after opposition arose to the design. That marquee is now sitting in pieces at Landmark Sign Group’s plant in Indiana.

Updating the existing sign will involve other costs.

Green said Landmark’s price does not cover the cost of repairing the facade of the existing marquee, painting the vertical sign that rises above the marquee, replacing incandescent lights with LED lighting, and adding wiring and conduit to connect a new message board to a computer that will control messages on the sign.

The board voted unanimously to seek bids for that work, showing its inclination to move ahead with the update recommended by a committee to examine the issue.

New board Chairman Dan Vera also told Green he should consult with the Rialto’s attorney on whether bids are needed for the electronics that would go into the marquee, rather than going straight to Landmark to do the work.

“Now you’re dealing with a different sign. It’s not the one that was created,” Vera said.

Green said after the meeting he had no idea of the potential costs of the work being put out to bid.

But the Rialto at one point estimated the price of a new marquee with a message board and repainted vertical sign at $350,000. The money was to come from a donation made by retired businessman Ed Czerkies. But Czerkies took his money back when the Rialto put the marquee on hold amid a controversy that include opposition to a planned memorial to his parents placed on the marquee.

Rialto officials have considered salvaging the words “Rialto Square Theatre” from the unfinished marquee and putting them on the back of the theater along Scott Street.

Other than that, no one on the board last week suggested using the new sign.

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