The Astoria Development Commission, which doubles as the Astoria City Council, held a special meeting Tuesday to finalize details of the $386,000 grant awarded to “Phase III: The Final Buildout of the Liberty Theater Building.”

“The Liberty Theater Board asked that we delay this decision so they could have a meeting last week to make sure that everything was clear and there was no misinformation,” said Mayor Willis Van Dusen, who also holds the positions of the Liberty board president and the development commission chairman.

“Speaking for myself, and I think I can say speaking for the Liberty Theater Board, there were too many different titles used for this project. I heard the terms phase III, the buildout, the final project, the final buildout, the second floor project. And the correct term is the ‘Phase III: The Final Buildout of the Liberty Theater Building.’”

The commission approved a payment schedule, giving the Liberty $386,000 in four equal payments June 30, Aug. 30, Oct. 30 and the final payment when the city issues the certificate of occupancy, expected to be Dec. 30.

The payments coincide with the four payments from Eric Paulson totalling $100,000.

Community Development Director Brett Estes says he has met with the theater Executive Director Rosemary Baker-Monaghan, several times over the last week to work out the payment schedule and to address questions in regard to what the initial commitment was on behalf of the Liberty for the construction of the kitchen on the second floor of the theater.

Estes said the city discovered it had designated a budget item of $10,000 for kitchen appliances for the theater in 2009 when the city was first addressed about the project.

“We looked at the plans from 2009 versus the plans that were finalized for the expansion,” he said. “And what we have done is the Liberty Theater, after their initial budget estimate, they met with chefs throughout the area, people who cater at the Liberty, and got feedback that they really needed to have a more robust kitchen area and some additional appliances to really make it fully functional.”

The latest plans show an expanded kitchen into where a storage area had originally been drafted. But Estes said the larger kitchen will be built now, with the larger “bells and whistles” fundraised for and added at a later time.

“Thank you so much for your support of the Liberty Theater,” a letter to the city from Baker-Monaghan said. “We’re pleased to confirm that the scope of work for the renovation project remains unchanged from the original allocation to the Astor East Urban Renewal District from Nov. 10, 2009.”

The $386,000 comes from the Astor East Urban Renewal District funds.


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