Hortonville hopes to bring in more rentals
By Scott Bellile
Village officials hope two programs will bring more people to the Hortonville Opera House this year while also providing the village extra income.
One of those programs, nighttime fitness programming, kicked off this week. The five-week Zumba and PiYo classes are organized and led by Greenville YMCA and follow Hortonville’s strategic planning efforts to provide more community activities.
The other program, a 4-year-old kindergarten program, is proposed but not officially approved. The village is in negotiations with Hortonville Area School District and the YMCA to move a 4K program from Hortonville Elementary School to the opera house, which village officials believe would provide youth a calmer, quieter environment.
A community fixture dating back to 1914, the opera house is currently a gathering space for the American Legion, several community groups, private parties and occasional village events like Halloween festivities and voting.
Village Administrator Diane Wessel said utilities at the opera house are costly, so the village is seeking more opportunities to rent out the space.
“We’re trying to get more utilization out of the Opera House because, one, it’s a beautiful building and it’s a focal [point] for the community, and [two] because it is village-owned, so we want to make wise use of tax dollars,” Wessel said.
Back at an Oct. 15 village board meeting, Village President Traci Martens explained a church group had asked to buy the opera house in early 2015. The village didn’t want to lose it and so turned down the offer.
The village and church group explored long-term lease options where both could use the opera house, but the church group wished to install non-moveable seating and pulpits in the gymnasium. The village didn’t want to lose access to an open gym floor.
The village turned down the group’s offer and instead pursued conversations with the YMCA and the school district.
The YMCA’s Zumba class started Monday, Jan. 18. And Wessel said talks continue with the school district regarding the proposed 4K program.
A request for comment made to school district administrator Heidi Schmidt was not returned.
School district representatives walked through the opera house on Friday, Jan. 15, Wessel said, and YMCA representatives and a state licenser inspected the opera house in December.
The inspections showed the opera house to be a suitable site for 4K if a few changes were made, Wessel said, such as new flooring and removal of the American Legion’s guns and alcohol.
“So far we haven’t run into any hurdles that are insurmountable,” Wessel said.
If the 4K became a reality and went over well, the village would consider introducing a daycare there, Wessel said.
Work on the flooring was scheduled to begin this week, Wessel said, courtesy of a donation by Hortonville couple Rob and Ann Schneider on behalf of a community foundation. The foundation gave money to install new carpeting on the opera house’s lower level.
For those interested in the YMCA fitness classes, Zumba takes place Mondays at 6 p.m., and PiYo is Thursdays at 6 p.m. Each class is $5 per session.
Attendees may come to one or as many sessions as they wish during the five-week programs, but they must register ahead of time at the Hortonville Municipal Services Center because the YMCA instructor cannot process registrations and payments.