The Panhandle Players, the Forgotten Coast’s community theatre group, made a request to the county earlier this year to repair the lot at Apalachicola’s Chapman Auditorium, which it oversees.
The county has come through.
Commissioner Noah Lockley used $27,310 funds from his road paving budget to pave the lot with asphalt in front of the historic art deco building, which once served as Chapman High School.
“We are thrilled to death,” said Apalachicola’s Royce Rolstad, who serves on the board of director of the theatre troupe. “We can’t thank Commissioner Lockley enough for paving the parking lot.”
The Panhandle Players, which shares the building with Apalachicola cardiologist Dr. Shezad Sanaullah’s office, see this as a huge benefit to everyone who accesses the building. The county filled in the potholes on a regular basis but within a few weeks the holes were back again from the heavy use of the lot and the Players felt that having either a paved or a gravel lot was the only way to rectify the situation.
“We would have been happy with a gravel lot but are so thankful Commissioner Lockley decided to pave it,” said Renee Valentine, president of the acting troupe and a resident of St. Joe Beach.
She said there were growing concerns from the Players about patrons walking through the lot at night and stepping into a hole and falling or twisting an ankle.
“We didn’t want anyone to get hurt and knew something had to be done,” said Valentine. “On top of the concerns for our patrons, we were also concerned about Dr. Sanaullah’s patients who use the lot way more than our patrons do.”
The county plans to stripe the lot as well as install wheel stops, one of several projects happening at the Chapman this summer. The Players are also installing canopies over two of the entrance doors, painting the theatre floor, and installing a new wireless audio system which they will begin using when they kick off their 2021-22 season this fall.
“The Chapman is our home, and we have to keep her up,” said Valentine.