City announces schedule for movies in the park

(Posted March 9, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Picture watching movies on a 20-foot wide screen. Now, picture doing that outside.

This summer, the city of London will show six free movies at Cowling Park every other Friday from June 2 through Aug. 11.

Mayor Patrick Closser secured a $5,000 donation from the employees at Stanley Electric in London to purchase an outdoor movie theater system that includes a huge inflatable screen, projector, two speakers, and a sound mixing board.

Closser also secured sponsors to pay for Blu-ray discs and licensing fees, a $400 expense per movie he wasn’t expecting.

“When I got into this project, it seemed like a very simple thing to do, but come to find out, it has been a lot more work than anticipated,” he said at the March 2 city council meeting. “But when the whole community is together watching a movie and having a great time, it will all be worth it.”

Closser said he assumed that because the city was a government entity, licensing wasn’t needed to show movies at no cost. When he learned otherwise, Rob Treynor of the London State Theater put him in touch with a company that handles licensing for government entities. Closser also learned that movie companies often restrict when certain movies can be shown.

Once he cleared the licensing and blackout date hurdles, he was able to set a schedule for this summer’s movie dates.

The first movie will be selected by a vote from the public. The start of voting will be announced in April via social media, including the Facebook pages for the city of London, Closser, and the Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, sponsor of the first movie night. The choices are “E.T.” (1982), “The Karate Kid” (1984), “Back to the Future” (1985), “Field of Dreams” (1989), and “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” (1989). Voting will close in early May to give the city time to order the winning movie.

The rest of the schedule is as follows:

June 16—“Sing” (2016), sponsored by London Kiwanis;

June 30—“The LEGO Batman Movie” (2017), sponsored by Downtown London Association;

July 14—“The Avengers” (2012), sponsor to be announced;

July 28—“Alice in Wonderland” (1951), sponsored by London Rib & Jazz Fest; and

Aug. 11—“Inside Out” (2015), sponsored by PAX.

“There was an amazing outpour of people thinking it’s a great thing,” Closser said about securing sponsors.

He noted that PAX, a program that promotes and rewards positive interactions, is replacing their usual pool event for youths with the movie night on Aug. 11.

Other council news

Also at the March 2 council meeting, resident Doug Pyles questioned the financial status of the city’s sanitation department. In the past, officials have reported that the department has been losing money. Pyles said he recently asked the city auditor’s office for income and expense information. He said the figures show that in 2016, the department brought in over $100,000 more than it spent.

“How is that losing money?” he asked.

Pyles inquired about the finances in light of the Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) proposed changes to the city’s trash and recycling rates and system. He said that rather than handle the work in-house, the city should contract with an outside company to handle the city’s trash hauling.

Stan Kavy, a BPU board member, said the board will have answers to Pyles’ questions and concerns at the April 6 public hearing on the proposed changes. The hearing will take place during council’s regular meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, 6 E. Second St.

On March 16, council will hold a public hearing on zoning changes that Madison Health requested to facilitate its expansion project. The hearing will take place during council’s regular meeting at 6:30.

Other city meetings include: finance committee, March 13, 6 p.m.; historic review board, March 14, 4 p.m.; tree commission, March 21, 5 p.m.; public safety committee, March 21, 7 p.m.; city properties committee, March 22, 7 p.m.; and BPU, March 23, 6:30 p.m. All meetings take place in council chambers, except public safety, which is held at the police station.

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