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Egyptian Theatre will install sprinkler system

DeKALB – Officials at the Egyptian Theatre are hoping to finish installing a building-wide sprinkler system by the end of August.

Alex Nerad, the theater’s executive director, said he is working with contractors to ensure a smooth installation, and to make it appear the sprinkler system was originally part of the building.

“We don’t anticipate interrupting anything we already have planned,” Nerad said.

On Monday, the DeKalb City Council voted 5-1 to allow the Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre organization to spend $127,400 to install a sprinkler system using money previously earmarked for other theatre projects.

The city had already allocated $374,000 to the Egyptian Theatre to pay for the air conditioning system, which leaders canceled after learning it would cost about $2 million.

The city also allocated $100,000 in tax increment financing funds to the theater as a part of its annual pledge.

First Ward Alderman David Jacobson, a frequent critic of how tax increment financing dollars are spent, cast the lone “no” vote Monday. 

Aldermen Kristen Lash and Ron Naylor, of the 3rd and 5th wards, respectively, were absent.

City Manager Mark Biernacki said the funds
remaining after the sprinkler system installation – which could be almost $350,000 – would be spent on a prioritized list of building improvements at the theater.

“We saw no reason to direct it to nontheater projects,” Biernacki said. “The money was already allocated to the theater, but for different projects than what was allocated for.”

Since 1989, the city has funded $2.2 million in building renovations at the Egyptian Theatre.

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