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Ogdensburg movie theater owner declines Growth Fund loan

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OGDENSBURG — Developer Gilbert J. Jones is refusing to accept a $60,000 loan for improvements to his cinema from the Ogdensburg Growth Fund Development Corp.

“I asked for $100,000,” he said Friday. “I’m sticking with that.”

On Wednesday, the Growth Fund agreed to lend Mr. Jones $60,000 for five years with no interest for two years and 2 percent annually for the three following years. He wants the money to buy digital projection equipment for his Ogdensburg Cinema I and II theaters at 119 Ford St., which he closed last summer.

But Mr. Jones’s refusal to a accept the loan is rooted in more than not getting what he requested.

He questions the legality of Mayor William D. Nelson’s status as the Growth Fund’s chairman, the agency’s bylaws and its independence from City Hall.

“I have high regards and respect for the board members,” Mr. Jones said, not counting the mayor. “It is fact city employees micromanage the Growth Fund.”

Mr. Jones said he would have his attorney review the Growth Fund’s bylaws as well as its April 1983 articles of incorporation.

Go ahead, the mayor said Friday.

“That’s fine,” Mr. Nelson said. “We have bylaws. The Growth Fund is a separate economic development agency. It is not part of City Hall.”

Mr. Jones initially asked the Growth Fund for a $100,000 loan.

Mr. Jones later said he might accept an offer of $60,000 at 0 percent interest over four years.

The Growth Fund said its offer was calculated to reflect its formula of $15,000 for every 35-hour-a-week, full-time-equivalent job created.

Mr. Jones originally figured for 12 full- and part-time jobs over a three-year period, including a manager, film booker, projectionists, concession workers and a custodial worker. He later changed the number to seven full-time employees.

Mr. Jones bought the 9,000-square-foot, double-screen, 448-seat cinema in 1980 and has since spent $85,000 on a new roof and $52,621 on an upgraded ventilation system.

He also installed a $73,000 marquee that displays paid advertising.

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