By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Barn, the community’s iconic all-purpose meeting place, could use a little love.
That was the parting message of Winthrop Town Council member Mike Strulic at last week’s town council meeting, one of the last he will attend after choosing not to run for re-election.
Strulic urged the council to devote more resources to the building, which is owned by the town and administered by the Winthrop Auditorium Association. With improvements, Strulic said, the Barn could host more varied events and be of more benefit to the community.
“As a town asset, I can’t stress enough the importance of the Barn,” Strulic said. “Its history and legacy are important.”
The Barn has “been our workhorse for years” as a community meeting and events facility, Strulic said.
“It’s the anchor of our community, and I feel it could be so much more,” he said. He urged the council to “help it [the Barn] reach its true potential.”
The Barn’s convenient location adjacent to downtown, its seating capacity and its ample parking are all advantages that should be exploited, Strulic said.
“It has to be a good facility to compete with other facilities” in the valley and in the region, Strulic said. “We need to start getting people fired up about it.”
The building’s sewage treatment system is currently being upgraded. But the town budget doesn’t currently include funds for improvements such as a renovated kitchen, upgraded bathrooms, new paint, and better sound and lighting systems.
Outgoing Mayor Rick Northcott agreed that the Barn needs more attention after the sewage treatment system project is completed.
Council member Joseph O’Driscoll said he’s heard from some Winthrop businesspeople that they would use the Barn more often if it had improved facilities, including better Wi-Fi. It could be “the perfect place” to bring a company or an organization for events and workshops, he said.
Council member Bob DeHart said he would like to see an improvement plan from the auditorium association, and that a council member should be designated to attend the association’s meetings.
Robert Stone, president of the auditorium association, told the council that the organization fully supports any Barn improvements.