Lights, camera, classtime

App State proposes classes in Appalachian Theatre

Josie Barnes

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Class at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country would trade traditional desks and whiteboards for the red carpet, the stage, the lights and popcorn machines. 

Paul Forte, vice chancellor of business affairs, requested the allowance of the B1-zone Appalachian Theatre to be used for U1 zone purposes at the Oct. 17 Boone Town Council meeting.

B1 zones are intended for central business and are the “core of downtown,” Forte said while U1 zones are for university purposes.

“In the spring, we plan to have two to four classes, and we’ll use that period to evaluate the effectiveness of the theater for classroom usage, and also get the facilities fit for us,” Forte said. 

Classes would take place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Forte’s presentation caused concerns regarding parking and the impact on local businesses. 

“I think anticipating parking needs is critical,” said Lynne Mason, town council member. “Even with the health science building, there are numerous parking problems for a number of businesses and for the town.” 

Mason said she believes students park downtown because it is a cheaper alternative to university parking permits, despite the possibility of a parking ticket. She also mentioned its proximity to campus. 

“We’ve worked really hard to develop a vibrant downtown,” Mason said. “We need to make sure we protect parking for downtown businesses.” 

Town Council member Sam Furgiuele suggested the university prohibit students from parking on King Street during class time under an academic discipline threat.

“The town would identify the violators, but it would be the university who actually would have to take penal action. The town couldn’t be giving out tickets, especially to students,” said Allison Meade, town attorney.  

Forte said he believes students will continue to park downtown and walk to their classes. 

“We don’t anticipate there’s going to be this huge drive of students for one class to sort of take over the town,” Forte said. “I think together we can offer more parking in that area and, hopefully, it will benefit the downtown area in the long term.”

Lililu on King employee Rachel O’Hare said she hopes the larger classes will create an increase in traffic to downtown businesses.

“I think there’s already a pretty good amount of student traffic on King Street during the day. I think it would definitely create more of a destination for students rather than just passing by everything to and from,” said O’Hare, a junior public relations major. 

Cheryl Roberts, an employee at Hands Gallery, said she thinks the foot traffic may help the business. She said students could walk over and possibly purchase a gift for someone.

At the meeting, the council voted to send Forte’s proposal to the planning committee. The proposal will then go to a public hearing and be sent back to the council for a final vote. 

“If there are problems, we intend to work with the community and help solve those problems,” Forte said.