Burlington’s city council has approved a proposal that could give new meaning to the concept of “courtroom theatrics.”
During a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the council signed off on an agreement with Alamance County that will allow the local court system to use the Paramount Theater on Front Street for legal proceedings that have traditionally taken place in downtown Graham.
The council approved this new use for the city-owned theater in order to provide the court system with the seating capacity necessary for the sort of the social distancing that has become de rigueur since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a memo from assistant city manager Rachel Kelly, county officials recently approached the city about this potential use of the theater, which has been shuttered to live theatrical performances due to the threat of coronavirus infection.
“After on-site reviews, it is evident that the Paramount Theater provides an appropriate venue for the county’s need,” Kelly went on to observe. “The county[‘s] use of the space activates this city facility to meet a community need and will bring additional guests to downtown.”
The council ultimately rubberstamped this proposed arrangement on Tuesday as part of a so-called consent agenda of items that were deemed sufficiently routine or non-controversial to be adopted en bloc. This deal nevertheless came up for discussion on Wednesday when the county commissioners held a “virtual” session to address some unfinished business from their latest regular meeting.
During that morning’s online confab, commissioner Eddie Boswell asked Alamance County’s manager Bryan Hagood to fill him in on the plan to hold court at the Paramount Theater.
“It appears that with very little work it can be used for jury trials,” Hagood told the council’s governing board, “which is good news in case we have any technical problems with our court buildings.”
Hagood added that, under the agreement with Burlington, the county will pick up the tab for security and disinfection in the city-owned theater.