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Cost higher than expected for lead removal at theater

Removing asbestos from the long-closed Princess Theatre in Tucumcari won’t be expensive, as expected.

Removing lead paint from the theater would be another matter.

Members of the Princess Theatre committee learned Thursday from city manager Paula Chacon that removing asbestos from the venue would cost an estimated $37,985.02.

Removing the lead paint would cost another $230,896, according to estimates from Asbestos Experts of Rio Rancho.

The total of nearly $270,000 — not including gross receipts taxes — would exceed the $250,000 in capital outlay money received for the theater earlier this year and prevent any sort of spending on facade improvements.

Chacon said lead paint at the theater was more extensive than asbestos, the latter which was largely confined to two front offices and the facade.

Committee member Matt Monahan suggested negotiating the price down to $200,000. Monahan said that would leave about $50,000 for planning and design of facade improvements.

During a teleconference later in the meeting with Asbestos Experts officials, one said “we can make this work” and would talk with Chacon about options.

Chacon said she was inclined to order the lead paint and asbestos remediation before the end of the year. That way, she said, the existing capital outlay money would be encumbered and the city would be in a better position to ask for more funds from the New Mexico Legislature when it begins its 30-day session in January.

Mayor Ralph Moya asked the finalized Asbestos Experts contract be on the agenda of the Tucumcari City Commission’s next meeting on Dec. 28.

Chacon said she also would apply for a Cultural Properties Restoration Fund Program grant for the theater. Such a grant could be worth up to $250,000.

The Princess Theatre was built by Arch Hurley and partner Gene Hawkins as the H-H Theatre in 1917. They renamed it the Princess Theatre a few years later.

The theater closed in 1962 after a fire, and it never reopened. The city took over ownership of the theater in the early 1980s.

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