The Chestertown Town Council has given Town Manager Bill Ingersoll authority to broker a deal that could reopen the local movie theater here nearly eight months after Chesapeake Movies was forced to close its doors under Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The theater has a possibility of getting revived by another theater operator,” Ingersoll said at the Nov. 2 meeting.
The town is on the hook to pay off a $75,000 loan the county floated to Chesapeake Movies in 2018 when the company made major renovations to the theater after Chestertown 5 closed its doors.
Under the agreement between the town and the county, the town would pay the county back through the amusement tax revenue the town collects on concessions and ticket sales.
To secure the town’s obligation to the county, the town entered into an agreement with Chesapeake Movies that collateralized fixtures and equipment in the theater.
Ingersoll said the collateralization would be extended to the new operator to protect the town.
“I think for us it’s a win-win if we get another operator and we continue like we agreed before [with the previous operator], Ingersoll said.
Ingersoll said there was really no alternative except to “cough up” the money to the county.
The town is still on the hook for the remainder of the loan regardless of the status of the theater.
The county is empathetic under the circumstances.
“In light of the pandemic and the possibility of a new operator, the county is not pressuring the town for repayment of the loan at this time,” Commissioner Ron Fithian said on Wednesday. “We will revisit the loan when the theater is up and running again.”