Fleischmanns wins control of theater

By Jay Braman Jr.
The last bit of red tape has been cut through and the Village of Fleischmanns is now the owner of the theater building on Main Street.
At least that is what it looks like.

Last week in United States Bankruptcy Court Bankruptcy Judge Diane Davis decided that the village did indeed properly take over the property when it was seized in a foreclosure action that started back in 2008.

The decision, reached on August 11, follows a series of court battles in which the previous owners, Richard and Brian Dowd, tried to get the property back from the village. Also a loser in the case is the Delaware National Bank of Delhi; which holds a first mortgage on the building and had sued the village in its attempt to foreclose on that mortgage. The village claimed in court that the bank had lost its right to foreclose when past due property taxes had not been paid in a timely manner. The bank countered in court that it had not been properly notified that taxes were due and would have paid them as a matter of policy to protect its mortgage if it had been notified.

Of course, the question now is, what will the village do with the building?
“No mater what you have heard, no decisions on this theater have been made yet,” said Village trustee Fred Woller on Tuesday.

In fact, although the village has been informed that it won the case, it remains unclear if this is indeed the end of the battle, Woller said.

Still not certain
“We just don’t know yet,” he said, adding that he and the other trustees must discuss the matter with legal representatives.

Pressed for information on what the village plans to do if it does actually own the facility, Woller said that he could only offer his opinion because no official discussions have been held.
Woller would like to see the building developed by private interests, and noted that it will take money to get it repaired.

“The theater is a tremendous asset to the village,” he said.

Trustees have long held that the theater should be an economic linchpin for its struggling Main Street business district. The structure, which includes upstairs apartments and a couple of storefronts, is primarily an old movie house that has not been in use for almost two decades, except for the apartments and storefronts.

Little info available
The theater issue came up at Monday’s village board meeting, but little information was offered as the trustees await more information on the finality of this most recent legal battle.
They have been at this juncture before.

Even though it appeared that the theater was in the hands of the village following an October 2010 appellate ruling that allowed the municipality to pursue foreclosure on the Main Street structure, the owner’s bankruptcy filing put the matter in limbo.

Woller is not sure if there are any other problems, but he expects the board will find out soon.