In September 2012, a group of residents gathered together in an effort to revive attempts to restore the jewel of our historic downtown, the Lompoc Theatre.

The group that resulted, the Lompoc Theatre Project, has pursued this goal for the last two years, encountering an unprecedented tangle of liens, agencies and issues. To see this local treasure approach 90 years old in such a state of decay has been as frustrating to those of us in the trenches as it has been to the community.

But at this moment, there is little more the Lompoc Theatre Project can do. We can’t pull one weed, patch the roof or fix the marquee. We can’t raise the millions needed for renovation and restoration — because we don’t own the building.

We reached a milestone last May when the city of Lompoc signed the memorandum of understanding that our Board of Directors approved in March. While this did not give us immediate ownership, the agreement gave us guidelines to untangle the legal mess, and a list of procedures that will allow us to take ownership and bring the theater back to life.

We quickly fulfilled the requirements within our control. We hoped this momentum would race forward. Instead, the pace has been more like moving inches at a time.

We will make it to the finish line, because we are a tenacious bunch. We have not been idly standing by, waiting for the various agencies and officials to work things out. We have been busy.

We have had several successful fund-raisers and volunteer meetings. We have strengthened our organizational foundation and are adding quality new members to our board.

We contracted with a theater restoration company to create a facility that will be the pride of Lompoc. We hired a fund-raiser. We have a calendar of events and a yearly operating budget that will be self-sustaining.

We will be the home for every arts group in the city. They will have a state-of-the-art facility that will help them rise to new artistic heights — and they will have it free of charge.

Groups and businesses will have an event center for meetings and special events. Couples will have the perfect place to say marriage vows.

The young people of Lompoc will have a new source of jobs, a chance to participate in workshops, and the opportunity to meet artists whose performances on that stage will inspire them. I know. It happened to me.

And Valley residents will finally have the performing arts center they deserve.

We just need one thing to make it happen. We need to own the theater.

Recent developments have us optimistic that it will happen by early 2015. After that, the fate of the Lompoc Theatre will finally be in our hands, and yours.

Please check out our website at lompoctheatreproject.org. Please attend a volunteer meeting and become a member of the Lompoc Theatre Project. Join us on Dec. 12 for a “Sneak Peek” at Montemar Wines to unveil plans to make our Lompoc Theatre rise again.

Mark Herrier is a Lompoc native, stage and film actor and director, and president of the Lompoc Theatre Project’s Board of Directors. Email him at markh@lompoctheatre.org

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