Fox Theater

The Fox Theater, a landmark in Taft's downtown, is closed and its future is up in the air as the West Side Recreation and Park District is looking at the feasibility of getting it open again.

The Fox Theater is closed, temporarily at least, and the West Side Recreation and Park District is in contact with the building's owner to see if it can be reopened.

There are numerous problems with the landmark downtown theater that resulted in it being closed earlier this month.

From the marquee in front to air conditioner on top to the restrooms in the basement and including the snack bar and projector, the historic theater needs major repairs and cleaning, two Rec District officials said at last week's Taft Chamber of Commerce Sit n' Sip.

District administrator Les Clark said he wants to try to get the theater open again and "give it a run" but he's not willing to risk taxpayer money.

Citing the district's fiduciary duty to the taxpayers, he said he looking at other funding options.

If it can be reopened, the theater could be used for more events than just movies to increase revenue.

Clark said a lot of thought is being given to activating a tax-exempt foundation the Rec established several years ago called Diamonds in the Rough.

He said the Rec is starting to talk with potential partners for the foundation now.

Clark said getting the Fox open again is going to have to be a community effort.

"Taft has got to circle the wagons. (The Fox) is essential the community. It's essential to the downtown area," Clark said.

Rec administrative assistant Terra O’Neill, who has been working on the project, said the theater needs a thorough cleaning.

Clark also gave a brief update on another local fixture, the Natatorium. It has been closed for three summers. The district recently received $600,000 for repairs to the aging pool, but that's only a start. Clark said the newest estimates for getting the pool repaired are about $1.2 million.

Clark said the district is still looking for more funding from the state and looking for community partners.

It is also exploring ways to increase revenue to cover the cost of keeping it running once it is repaired.