Triumvirate Theatre President Joe Rizzo testifies before the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Triumvirate Theatre President Joe Rizzo testifies before the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘It really could transform this community’

Kenai approves transfer of land to Triumvirate Theatre

Efforts to rebuild Triumvirate Theatre took another step forward on Wednesday after the Kenai City Council voted unanimously to donate a piece of city land on which the organization will build a new theater facility. The land is about 2 acres in size and is located near Daubenspeck Family Park and the Kenai Walmart.

Triumvirate’s previous theater burned in a fire earlier this year, prompting a swift community effort to help the group rebuild. A benefit concert for the theater is scheduled for Friday in Ninilchik and will feature country singer Bryan White and the Yale Whiffenpoofs, an a cappella group.

Multiple community members testified in support of the land donation during the Kenai City Council’s June 16 meeting, including Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District Executive Director Tim Dillon, who said it would bring economic benefits to Kenai, and Kate Cox, 12, who performs with Triumvirate.

Many council members also voiced their support for the donation during that meeting, however, a final vote was scheduled for July 7 to allow time for the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission to review the legislation. A June 24 memo from Kenai Planning Director Ryan Foster to the council said the commission recommended approval of the donation.

Triumvirate Theatre President Joe Rizzo has called the donation of land from the City of Kenai a “critical” element of a Tier 2 grant application the theater plans to submit to the Rasmuson Foundation. Triumvirate is currently using a Tier 1 grant from the foundation in the amount of $25,000 for architectural and design efforts.

Rizzo said during testimony before the council on Wednesday that he recently traveled and could tell the difference between communities that took advantage of the things that made them unique and those that did not.

“I was thinking a lot about this facility being in Kenai and how, with the right vision, it really could transform this community into one that really nurtures kids and really can make a big economic impact on the community and on businesses here,” Rizzo said.

Conceptual designs for the new theater facility shared by Rizzo with the council on Wednesday describe a 120-seat theater with balcony seating and high-ceiling lobby, which Rizzo told the council will make the space feel bigger without taking up additional square footage. He added that balcony seating offers a unique appeal for patrons, who are often willing to pay more for those seats.

“When I am working with the architects on this, I am very, very excited about the possibility of seeing this vision realized,” Rizzo said. “I think that it will be a facility unlike any other in Kenai.”

In voting to support the donation, council members cited the cultural value the theater will bring to Kenai and the role the land donation will play in helping secure additional grant funds for the theater.

“I look at this as a huge investment in the future of our community and the youth in our community,” said council member Glenese Pettey.

“I am happy to support this,” said council member Teea Winger. “I am excited to bring you into the City of Kenai.”

The council voted unanimously to support the donation. Wednesday’s full council meeting can be viewed on the City of Kenai’s YouTube channel.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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