For a while Tuesday, it looked like the city of Ogdensburg might be getting into the movie theater business.
Plattsburgh businessman Gilbert J. Jones made the city an offer he hoped it couldnt refuse: take over his closed Ogdensburg Cinemas, 219 Ford St., and keep it running for at least 25 years.
Im offering it as a gift to the city, said Mr. Jones, who shuttered the twin-screen cinema last month.
Interim City Manager Philip A. Cosmo cited legal reasons for turning down Mr. Joness offer.
Its not something that were allowed to do, Mr. Cosmo said.
Mayor William D. Nelson said the city can use taxpayer dollars to provide basic services like sewer and water as well as fire and police protection.
But not a private enterprise like a movie theater.
Running a theater is not something we can legally do, the mayor said.
Mr. Jones was brief in his response to the citys reply.
I have no comment, he said. The offer still stands.
Mr. Jones bought the theater in 1980. Over the years he has invested heavily in the 9,000-square-foot property. A new roof and ventilation system cost a total of $85,000.
Last year with assistance from a $50,000 state grant, Mr. Jones installed a $73,000 marquee.
Yet the theater remains unprofitable, losing an estimated $5,000 annually.
Its always been a money-losing proposition, Mr. Jones said.
The theaters latest needed expense was a factor in Mr. Joness decision to shut it down. A digital projection system is needed at a cost of more than $100,000. He doesnt have it.
I want to keep the theater open as much as anyone, Mr. Jones said.
Mr. Jones also owns and is continuing ahead with plans to renovate for reopening in 2013 the former Ramada Inn at 119 W. River St.