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Will Deltona get a new arts center?
By Al Everson
posted Apr 22, 2014 - 10:20:03am
Seven years after he began calling for the development of a multimillion-dollar arts center in Volusia County’s biggest city, a musician and talent promoter is reviving his proposal and stepping up appeals for action.
“This would give Deltona an identity beyond just being a bedroom community,” Lloyd Marcus told the City Commission earlier this month, as he kicked off a new initiative for the project, known as the New Arts & Performance Center.
Marcus is the longtime president of the Deltona Arts & Historical Center, which is a converted model home at 582 Deltona Blvd. The center includes art exhibits, a recording studio, and a meeting room. The Deltona Arts & Historical Center also has archives of some of the community’s earliest historical documents and artifacts.
Although the Deltona Arts & Historical Center has had its own share of financial difficulties, Marcus says the community has outgrown the cramped space and should have cultural amenities more in keeping with its size and diversity.
“The Deltona Arts & Historical Center is a 3,000-square-foot house,” Marcus explained, adding he and his wife, Mary Parker, “have worked for nothing” to keep the center viable. “The fire code says you can only have 50 people in there at a time.”
Now, he insists, is the time for Deltonans to set their sights and expectations higher, by envisioning “a big, beautiful building at the interchange of Saxon [Boulevard] and I-4.”
Despite the rather sluggish economic recovery in a city known for its high rate of home foreclosures just a few years ago and its lack of a vibrant commercial sector in its tax base, Marcus is not shying away from renewing efforts to build the center.
Indeed, Gary Paduch, an architect and ally of Marcus, says it is now time for Deltona to “take it to the next level.” That next level, he argued, is the proposed New Arts & Performance Center, complete with a 1,500-seat opera house and theater, an art gallery, and a conference/banquet hall. The New Arts & Performance Center’s estimated price tag is $27 million.
“The city has the power to do things I can’t do,” Paduch said to the City Commission April 7, adding he can secure contributions to help build the center. “It will be a smash hit. ... I think Deltona has an extraordinary opportunity to do this.”
Moreover, if Marcus has his way, the site he covets for the complex has the three essentials of real-estate marketing: location, location, location. Namely, the New Arts & Performance Center would be on the southeast corner of the interchange of Interstate 4 and Saxon Boulevard. Such a high-visibility site would be convenient for patrons coming from other places for the center’s shows and events. It would be an imposing landmark by day, and a spectacular sight at night, perhaps the definitive structure of Deltona’s skyline.
The proposed site, however, is quite low-lying and susceptible to drainage problems.
“The property is a flood plain. Who would assume liability for that?” asked Deltona Vice Mayor Heidi Herzberg.
The 81-acre parcel includes Trout Lake, whose wetlands are now off-limits to mud-runners who formerly came to enjoy getting down and dirty with their Jeeps, trucks and motorcycles. A preliminary environmental study of the property described the terrain question.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the proposed project is how to address stormwater management, drainage, and flooding issues within the immediate project area,” the report reads.
Besides the flood plain, the site also may be a “potential” habitat for “[a] number of protected wildlife species,” according to the report, including scrub jays, gopher tortoises, sandhill cranes, and even the bald eagle.
Permits from a host of federal and state agencies would probably be required before any major development occurs.
Raising the money for the New Arts & Performance Center is doable, Paduch said, as he and Marcus appealed for the City Commission’s blessing — and willingness to fork over some cash — for the project.
“I can go to some people who don’t live in Volusia County, but are interested in this,” said Paduch.
Marcus says some of the funding for the new center may come from Volusia County’s Environmental/Cultural/Historical/Outdoor-recreation program, known as ECHO, for short. The ECHO program provides grants for projects related to any one of or a combination of the four categories covered. The funding comes from a voter-approved tax of 0.20 mill per $1,000 of taxable property value.
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