“Well, have they raised the $4 million in private funds yet for the Performing Arts Center?”

We were sitting in a restaurant just yards from the proposed site at 201 Main St., which is the former Alec’s Shoes building and years before that, Miller’s department store.

My Manchester friend has been a solid supporter of the arts as well as a loyal patron of Symphony NH, based here in Nashua. He asked a fair question. Unfortunately, my answer was, no.

How much in private funds has been raised in two years is still a mystery. I think residents have a right to know.

Mayor Jim Donchess remains determined that a new downtown performing arts center will open within the next four years, as he recently outlined in his inaugural address.

I believe that most citizens in the Gate City want to see a performing arts center become a reality; if not, in 2017 voters wouldn’t have passed the non-binding referendum to build one. A $15.5 million bond was approved.

But money is always the issue when it comes to dreaming big in any community, and now residents are wondering if the plan for a downtown performing arts center has become the boondoggle of 2020.

Some taxpayers feel duped because initially, no renovation or construction could start until $4 million in private funds were raised as a portion of the operating cost for a new performing arts center. The resolution would expire two years from its effective date if the $4 million was not raised.

But there’s a new resolution for aldermen to chew on; R20-001 would remove the two-year requirement for the raising of the $4 million.

Maybe the city jumped in too fast, without considering the structural limitations of 201 Main St.

Consider what Joseph Olefirowicz has to say. Not only is he the minister of music at First Church Nashua, but he has performed as a guest conductor at Symphony NH and traveled the globe directing musical performances.

He believes the city should scrap 201 Main St. He points to its lack of an orchestra pit, stage wings or backstage space.

Olefirowicz suggested on Ward 3 Alderman Patricia Klee’s Facebook page that the city focus on using the soon-to-be vacated Elm Street Middle School.

“Invest THIS money in the current auditorium there with excellent bones. Blow out its back wall, establish an orchestra pit, reconfigure seating to modern standards (reducing numbers but still keeping commensurate with a more substantial attendance than this design), and make it a true accessible center with parking possibilities right at the venue.”

Stay tuned, folks.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.