Chautauqua Building

The Historic Chautauqua Building is currently closed down, still awaiting a decision by the Shelbyville City Council or the voting public to either restore it or to demolish it.

There was no action concerning the Chautauqua Auditorium at Monday night’s Shelbyville City Council Meeting, but according to Mayor Jeff Johnson, the council is leaning toward a voter referendum in March.

In order for the referendum to be put on the ballot, the referendum needs to be to the Shelby County Clerk’s Office by Dec. 30 – 100 days and just six regularly-scheduled city council meetings from now.

At the most recent Shelbyville City Council meeting, there was some discussion among the council members on whether to rehab or demolish the historic Chautauqua Auditorium in Forest Park.

Commissioner Mark Shanks was asked by Trillium Dell to look into a couple of areas of the proposal to restore the auditorium. There was some work outside of the scope of their review, so Shanks was asked to inquire about what those costs would be, if work was done.

In the past, there has been little will on the part of the council to make a decision either to restore or demolish the Chautauqua Building. As far back as 2012, the council had considered the idea of voter referendum. Seven years later, nothing has been decided.

Johnson told the Daily Union that the council seems to be leaning towards a voter referendum. That’s seems to be nothing new. Almost exactly seven years ago to the day, the council reportedly was debating the same strategy, that they could either ask for an advisory referendum or even ask for a property tax referendum that would actually fund the restoration.

It was reported on Oct. 16, 2012 that council member Jeff Johnson said. “I think they want to save the Chautauqua building, but it’s not something that’s going to be done overnight.”

It hasn’t been done overnight, or seven years later.

“It’s something (a referendum) we need to seriously be discussing this fall,” Johnson said.

Street Commissioner Thom Shafer has been keeping the council updated on another big project in town, the approaching Streetscape Project that is getting closer to starting, and work that may need to be done to prepare for that.

The City Council did vote to approve the painting of the pool at the Shelbyville Family Aquatic Center, something that is recommended every five years. There was one stipulation by Commissioner Martha Firnhaber prior to approving the work to paint the pool. {/span}She wanted there to be an insurance policy of $1 million liability, and $2 million aggregate. Pending that, the work was approved to by done by Dreyer Painting out of Stockton for $20,540.

The council also approved advertising for bids on repairing the roof of City Hall. The council did not approve a bid to fix the roof at the Senior Citizens Center, yet. Again, there was a question about insurance, so that is being checked into.

The council approved a $30,000 matching donation to the Economic Development Council, matching what Shelby County kicks in. Commissioners Debe Wright and Firnhaber are city council representatives to the Economic Development Council.

In other business, the council approved setting Trick or Treat night to Thursday, Oct. 31 from 5-8 p.m.

John Curtis can be reached at

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