Criterion Faces Eviction



BAR HARBOR — The nonprofit Criterion Theatre and Arts Center group is facing eviction from the historic downtown building it is attempting to buy.

 

Building owner Erin Early-Ward will press to have the group removed from the theater in an eviction hearing in Hancock County District Court scheduled for July 8. She maintains in court papers that the group has defaulted on its lease obligations and no longer has a right to be in the building.

Criterion group president Rob Jordan, in a June 24 letter to Ms. Early-Ward distributed to local media, partially blamed her for the theater’s troubles and asked her not to move forward with the hearing. He pressed Ms. Early-Ward to cooperate with his group to find a “good, workable and fair solution” to the situation, while also raising the specter of failure should the hearing move forward.

“If you choose to proceed with the eviction hearing on July 8,” Mr. Jordan wrote, “we the board feel that eviction would create an unworkable situation for the theatre because of the many complications that would arise. The community response to that action could be harmful.”

Ms. Early-Ward said Tuesday that she planned to move forward with the eviction process. She has twice agreed to delay the hearing, she said, because she felt some progress was being made, but feels that negotiations have now come to an end.

“He’s not negotiating with us. He’s putting his reply in the paper as far as I am concerned,” Ms. Early-Ward said. “I offered them payment options and they weren’t interested in taking them.”

Ms. Early-Ward first moved to have the group ousted from the theater on April 26 of this year, and her attorney Douglas Chapman sent Mr. Jordan a notice of termination of tenancy. The brief notice alleged that the group was in “default of its obligations to pay rent, and other amounts.” For that reason, the notice stated, Ms. Early-Ward was terminating the lease and demanding that the group immediately vacate the building.

The notice was followed a week later, on May 5, with a forcible entry and detainer summons, within which the theater group was accused of refusing to vacate the premises. In related paperwork, Ms. Early-Ward demanded judgment for possession of the premises.

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