AVON PARK – It could possibly become a literal field of dreams Saturday in downtown Avon Park.
For the past six months, Avon Park residents Robert Talley and Judy McCarter have been working to get a series of free, outdoor movies started in Donaldson Park. That dream becomes reality at 8:45 p.m. Saturday, when Talley and McCarter -- through their recreation rental company Sight Unseen Enterprises -- show the outdoor series’ first movie, the 1989 baseball hit “Field of Dreams,” in what they hope will become a downtown destination tradition in the near future.
Talley and McCarter were able to get a boost in helping publicize their project at Monday’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board Special Meeting, when the board approved the couple for $1,215 to be used for advertising “Movies on the Beach.” The board approved the money 4-1 after a debate on what constituted proper use of CRA funds.
Historically, money coming from any of the CRAs -- Main Street, Airport and Southside -- were meant to be used for “brick and mortar,” removal of “blight,” physical additions, remodeling or alterations to structures. But after a 20-minute debate, the CRA board -- the “Mothership” made up of the mayor and council members -- voted to bend regulations to help finance advertising for movies to be shown on the shore of Lake Verona.
The dissenting vote was cast by Councilwoman Brenda Giles because she was concerned businesses would already be closed and not benefit from visitors to the movie, in essence the money would be used to promote a private business. Mayor Sharon Schuler said there were restaurants open at that time and when the weather got colder, the speculation was that guests would move to the restaurants after the movie to warm up, eat and drink.
At his south Verona Avenue home, Talley said Wednesday he was pleased with the board’s decision, after a series of setbacks have kept he and his wife from getting the series underway, including Sight Unseen assistant Amir Ghassemi getting sick and a temporary beach closure.
“There are no movie theaters in the immediate area,” he said. “I would like to get movies out in the park and show them free, making it affordable to all families. We’ll have to see how it turns out,” he said.
As for the future use of CRA money in for-profit ventures, Councilman Parke Southerland said supporting Sight Unseen wouldn’t be much different from supporting other activities that draw people downtown, like Oktoberfest or Music on the Mall.
In any event, McCarter said she was glad to have the City get behind Sight Unseen’s effort to bring free family fun downtown.
“We’re happy they’re (CRA board) trying to show a little faith in us,” she said.
McCarter said the movie night would begin at 7 p.m. with a dodgeball tournament.
For information, call (863) 257-4791 or see www.sightunseenenterprises.com.