Letter: Community reaction to theater in casino reveals disturbing situation
To the editor:
I’ve had headaches lately. So have a lot of people. Finally, I get some answers and information regarding the present and future local movie theaters. When everyone fully realizes the ramifications for our youth, in what we’re offering them, more heads will hurt. Better a hurt head than continuing to force the loss of childhood innocence all in the quest for family entertainment. This letter is intended for those respondents to my past article, the group of Club Live kids and their mentors, and anyone else who does not want to be subject to every other form of adult entertainment in order to see a movie. This is a terrific town. I am proud to be a part of it for countless reasons. However, we do have a couple of serious character flaws for a community of this size. 1. We are not listening enough to what the kids are really saying; and 2. Corporate America rules decision making and development.
Many people wrote and said they do not go to the movies much anymore. A lot said they pay more money and travel to Carson City/Valley. Still others said the following: They are uncomfortable going to the casino, they don’t like their parents going with them, the effects of their parents gambling while they watch a show, having very easy access to alcohol, watching their friends behave in different mannerisms in the environment of the older/forbidden, having to walk through the main casino so much when often the films are sold out, and seeing friends’ mothers dressed in skimpy clothing while working. These were the majority of responses.
The most astounding information I acquired was from the middle school group, Club Live. They had a huge folder of documentation they accumulated throughout two years of action. Not only was their effort fruitless, it was met with blatant disregard and arrogance. I am not bashing Horizon or Wallace. I am, however, bashing the insignificance given to our kids and our community’s concerns. They are legitimate and very real.
My oldest is only 11-1/2 years old. So far I have had limited problems. I have no doubt they are coming, if our children are left to their own devices. I learned that kids can wander in and out of shows at any rating, in and out of the theater and anywhere within the casino. Kids themselves told me how accessible the alcohol, cigarettes and older companions are. I truly never realized the extent of this problem until I heard it from the mouths of kids themselves, who have been dedicated with their leader to change this dilemma for the past two years.
I read reports where the architect was more than willing to work with Horizon to build a separate entrance and bathroom. In meeting with a corporate Horizon employee, they were told more than once there was no issue! Also, they met with a corporate Wallace employee who detailed out the strategies used in placing machines near these entrances to lure. We all know the tactics. We have heard 100 times all the negative modeling. We simply have no leverage, as a colleague bluntly put it. It is true. Tourists will still put their kids there to gamble. Shows will continue to sell out even without the support of locals, so on to two years from now!
Our redevelopment office has confirmed for me that a new cinema will be built in the new Stateline hotel complex. Once an eight-screen prospect has now become a four-screen arena. There is yet to be a financial backer for this project, but the architect has ensured its completion. Wallace Theater has offered to manage it. As of this letter they are not being considered as a backer nor managing firm. We should be very thankful for this! It will be at Stateline and not Meyers, or an office supply building, as many hoped for. However, it will be smoke- and gaming-free. It is planned to be ready for operation in two years. We will see. It is hard to get any answers here.
I actually paid money and attended a workshop hosted by the Sierra Business Council a few weeks ago at the Fresh Ketch. I did not know exactly what my business was, but I hoped to find out about a new theater. The workshop was for anyone interested in community development and making good community decisions. There were only three of us from South Shore. I was grouped with people from the valley making real plans expanding their arts center. There were a variety of projects being implemented in other areas for the benefit of the while community. I met some nice people, but left not knowing much about our area except we are here to serve the tourists.
Measure S will bring additional recreation for us all. That timeline is also difficult to follow. I guess we will all find out together as it goes along. If, in fact it does! Our area cannot support three movie theaters. Before I learned of the new construction, my thought was to build a theater at the community college. Although I was told there was no money for such an endeavor, and I am positive there are a million institutional regulations against it, I still ponder it as the ultimate climate for the art of cinema. I would most certainly build one myself if able. Think of a climate where higher learning was modeled. Imagine a place where there were no cultural or racial boundaries on personal achievement. Where there could be perfect parking, lighting and on the bus route. A centrally located cinema for easy access. An environment where kids were exposed to positive things people participate in. Also, a safe environment where there would be a good chance to meet one’s neighbor, brother or friend’s mother taking classes. If it were possible, I’d add a place for Tahoe Arts Project to host performers and a screening area for our annual Film Festival. But that’s my vision. It is one I cannot make a reality. In the meantime, locals will get another choice in two years. Possibly before, if Wallace changes its direction or relocates. We may have little leverage, but we do have dignity!
Thank you to all who concern themselves with this issue and to the Club Live group who inspired me to continue on this quest with them.
South Lake Tahoe
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