Williamsport, Pa. - The Community Theater League is vacating the third floor space at the Trade and Transit Center I building on West Third Street in Williamsport as early as next Friday.
In a message sent to former CTL cast and crews members, Executive Director Seth Sponhouse cited “legal issues the city is facing” as the reason for the partial eviction.
Presently, the CTL occupies the first and third floors of the building. The first floor houses the main stage and the box office, while the third floor holds the administrative offices and almost all of the educational/workshop space.
Currently no occupancy permit exists for the third floor space, even though the CTL has occupied that space for the past five years. When the CTL approached the city to renew the lease in 2020, both parties discovered there was no formal agreement. All city officials could find, according to Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter, was a signed piece of paper by Bill Nichols, former finance director and head of River Valley Transit, allowing the CTL to use the third floor.
The agreement was never formalized by a City Council vote, said Slaughter.
"They have to get formal approval from City Council to be able to occupy that space," Slaughter said. "City coucil would have likely approved it five years ago, had the City's previous administration not dropped the ball," he said.
Occupying the third floor without a permit is a "gigantic liability," according to the mayor. "If I have to be the Big Bad Wolf, that's ok," he said. The alternative is a major liability both for the City and CTL should anything--like a fire, for example--happened.
Sponhouse posted to the CTL community on Facebook requesting help with moving. In the post he wrote, "we are in desperate need of your help - next Friday May 14th we will be moving everything off of the third floor and need help packing, and moving! We will be loading box trucks and moving furniture, set pieces and everything in between to our storage units in South Williamsport."
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The CTL had no further formal comment.
According to Slaughter, there is no deadline issued by the city for the CTL to move. PennDOT and the Federal Transportation Authority are currently reviewing the propsed use in absence of a lease agreement, he indictaed.
His hope is that all parties can come to an agreement.
CTL was formed in 1976 was the first long-term tenant of its outgoing location at the McDade Trade and Transit Centre in downtown Williamsport, having been there since 1999.