Moviegoers who patronized the former Colony Theater, which opened in 1938, in its heyday, would likely be alternately flabbergasted and intrigued by the latest, modern addition to the parking lot that abuts the Colony Park, an installation on North High Street in Hillsboro built on the same location as the razed, 500-seat movie house.
“Electric Vehicle Chargers are now available in the parking lot behind the Colony Park,” according to Lauren Walker, the economic development coordinator and code enforcement officer for the city of Hillsboro, who said the charging station was installed earlier this year.
Residents of 1938 Hillsboro, who paid 25 cents to partake of the popular theatrical entertainment offered at The Colony, might have loaded up in a new Buick, which, for the first time that year, offered a car radio as an option. Comparatively, electric cars may have seemed like outlandish science fiction.
But they’re not only real, but increasingly common and necessary as electric cars become more popular among America’s consumers.
“The chargers were funded by an AEP grant applied for last year,” Walker said. “The project began over winter” and was completed earlier this year.
“We are very pleased with the final project and excited to share with everybody,” said Walker, who encouraged the use of technology to access information about the charging station. “The Chargepoint App can be downloaded on your phone and is user friendly to use.
“We will be posting a list of vehicles the chargers are compatible with, and if you have any questions about the chargers, I encourage people to download the app and click on driver support. Besides the high tech app, we will be excited to share the Green House Gas Savings reports. We are able to assess environmental data as well as other interesting statistics.”
“I would like to thank AEP, ABM, Chargepoint, the public works superintendent for seamlessly working together to complete this project in a short time frame,” Walker added.
During the Oct. 13, 2021, Hillsboro City Council meeting, mayor Justin Harsha initially broached the topic of the then planned charging station and the circumstances necessitating its timely installation.
A resolution that was approved for the charging stations stated the city had the opportunity to purchase two electric car charging stations from ABM Electrical Power Solutions for $181,275 and had secured a grant for reimbursement for part of the cost.
It was further clarified that the referenced cost included $150,000 for the cost of the charging stations themselves as well as the additional warranty for the remaining amount of $31,275.
The grant, funded by AEP, specified a reimbursement of $150,000. However, the city was required to fund the initial purchase upfront, prior to being reimbursed.
EV charging stations are but a few of the uses of the Colony Park, however.
In January 2018, amidst a blustery winter background, the city of Hillsboro, which had previously acquired the property on which the park is built prior to the theater’s demolition, began the process of creating a curated space to pay homage to and reference the original popular and iconic theater, whose first customer was local professional photographer Sarah Ella “Byrde” Ayres. A single layer of brick was put up to cover the wall of the adjacent office building that was exposed following the demolition of the theater, which had become dilapidated following years of neglect and disrepair and was adjudicated by officials to be irreparable and unsalvagable.
The Colony Park then slowly took shape through planning and various improvements, transforming into what it is today, a multipurpose space that references the past, serves the needs of the present, and leans into the future.
Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.