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Stoughton Selectmen Chair Stagnone Won't Seek Reelection; Announces Plans to Lease Theatre

Selectmen Chair John Stagnone made the announcement that he won't seek reelection at Tuesday night's Selectmen's meeting. He and his wife have entered into a lease of the State Theatre building with the plans to renovate and reopen the do

John Stagnone, chairman of the Stoughton Board of Selectmen, announced at Tuesday night's selectmen's meeting that he would not be seeking reelection to the Board in this upcoming April's Town Election.

While not running again, Stagnone, also the president of Stoughton Media Access Corporation (SMAC), still plans to be visible in town. Stagnone said he and his wife, Roberta, have entered into a long-term 20-year lease of the State Theatre building on Washington Street.

Stagnone, first elected to the Board in 2010, has served as chairman since April of 2011. His three-year term expires in April 2013.

While no one had pulled papers to run for selectman prior to Tuesday, with Stagnone's decision not to run, Stoughton attorney T.J. Recupero announced his candidacy and is the first person to officially express interest in what is now an open seat this election cycle.

Renovating and reopening the theatre is something Stagnone sees as a key part to downtown revitalization efforts. He said he would like to see the State Theatre offer movies, theater productions and live entertainment.

Stagnone said he couldn't devote the time necessary to both renovate the theatre and to carry out his duties as a selectman.

"I felt my time is limited [and I] had to make a choice," he said.

Stagnone said he will be leasing the building from C&V Investment Realty Trust.

Located in Stoughton Center, the State Theater opened in 1927 and closed as the Stoughton Cinema Pub in 2007. It has been vacant since.

Stagnone is forming a 501c3 non-profit corporation, Friends of the State Theatre, to help with this renovation process. He said $1.5 million will need to be invested.

While he will file for grants to help with some of the cost, Stagnone said he is looking for corporate donors.

Stagnone acknowledged that it is going to take "a lot of work" to see this project through, but Stagnone and his wife aren't alone.

"In addition to my wife Roberta and I, we had a great response from the community to [the] bring back the State Theatre ad," he said, adding "we have 18 volunteers to date helping us reach our goal, and that number continues to increase as the word gets out."

In his almost three years as selectman, Stagnone said a lot has been done to benefit the financial future of the town, pointing to increasing the town's stabilization fund and spending about $1 million in cash for articles at Town Meeting last year, instead of borrowing the money, while putting a plan in place to spend even more in cash this year.

The town has also moved forward with a master plan, capital planning and multi-year budgeting under Stagnone.

"We've gotten a lot done," he said, but was quick to say it was an effort of the whole board, not just one individual.

Interim Town Manager Joseph Feaster said Stagnone has "been an extraordinary chairman and has been a pleasure to work under...for the past nine months."

The seat currently held by Stagnone is the only one up this election cycle. Nomination papers for town-wide offices must be filed with the Town Clerk's Office by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2013 to be eligible to run in the April 2013 Town Election.

Christine Iacobucci contributed reporting.

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