Logan RDA investing in a cool summer for Eccles Theatre audiences

The Logan Redevelopment Agency is investing $65,000 to divert canal water to the cooling system in the historic Ellen Eccles Theatre.

LOGAN – The Logan Redevelopment Agency (RDA) is investing $65,000 to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in upcoming decades.

Acting in their capacity as the city’s RDA, the members of the Logan City Council approved a $65,000 grant to benefit the Ellen Eccles Theatre on Mar. 15. That grant will fund construction of a new canal diversion at 50 West, 100 South to pipe water into the theater’s cooling system.

“I don’t know if people watching this meeting on YouTube know that the Ellen Eccles Theatre is cooled by canal water,” says Council Chair Jeanne F. Simmonds. “They don’t have an evaporative cooling system or air conditioning that is separate from the canal.

“So for us to be able to enjoy the theater in the summertime, we need to fix (their ability to access canal water). It’s important.”

While the historic theater’s cooling system might sound like a Rube Goldberg design, it is actually cost-effective and environmentally friendly, according to Wendi Hassan, the executive director of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts.

“(We take water from the canal that runs parallel to 100 South) that’s cooler than the air, send it through coils that cool the air around them, then blow that cooler air into the auditorium,” Hassan explains.

“It’s actually a great system,” she adds. “It has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And it’s very environmentally friendly because we don’t do anything to the water except send it right back out into the canal.”

The theater’s continued use of that cooling water was threatened, however, by the plans of the developer of the Mill Creek residential complex on 100 South to relocate the nearby canal.

“When we found out that the construction of the Mill Creek project would relocate the canal, we were naturally concerned,” Hassan recalls. “First of all, it would have cost about $200,000 to install condensers or chillers. Moreover, there would be no way to install that equipment in a historic façade. We’re talking about a pretty big footprint and space we don’t have.

“Even if we had the money and the space, with manufacturing delays, supply chain issues and construction schedules, there was no way we could have an alternate system in place in time for our 2022 summer season when the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre was finally back in residence.”

But Richard Anderson, Logan finance director, told RDA members that under a legal agreement dating back to the early 1990s, the city guaranteed the theater’s access to cooling water if the canal were ever relocated.

“With the cooperation of the city, the Mill Creek developers and the canal company,” Hassan explained, “we have a solution to send a pipe back from the canal’s new location to connect to the theater’s cooling system.”

The alternative to that $65,000 expense would be to run the theater’s cooling system with culinary water.

“That might be feasible for one show in an emergency,” Hassan acknowledged, “but that’s certainly not a long-term solution.

“It’s not environmentally friendly and it’s definitely not a good solution in a drought.”

The Cache Valley Center for the Arts is an independent non-profit organization that promotes the use of Cache Valley’s publicly owned cultural arts facilities.

Those facilities include the Ellen Eccles Theatre, the Thatcher-Young Mansion and the Bullen Center

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1 Comment

  • W Lee March 18, 2022 at 1:24 pm Reply

    Sounds like the proper and wise use of funds. The theatre is the hub of Cache Valley’s social events year round and enables valley residents and travelers to be exposed to a wide spectrum of different forms of art.

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