MILTON — Milton's historic Imogene Theatre could soon become the hottest ticket of downtown Milton thanks to the efforts of Main Street Milton.

Ed Spears, director of Main Street, said the non-profit organization is in the late stages of negotiations a contract with the Santa Rosa Historical Society that would have MSM serving as the management company for the 105-year-old building. 

"We have been doing an interim test run (holding events) for the past two months," Spears said. "We think it is a viable operation and something we should be doing." 

Spears said he has been in contact with vendor companies including catering, lighting, sound and a touring theater company that are interested in partnering with the organization to improve the quality of events that the Imogene provides. Spears said one thing they would like to do more of is opening the parlor for more social events, including a coffee bar during the day time.

At the June 26 MSM board meeting, Spears presented a draft of the contract to the board members that were "comfortable presenting it as a working draft."

Cassandra Sharp, a member of both the MSM board and SRHS board, abstained from the discussions but said the historical society had met on June 24 and saw a draft of the contract and approved it with minor changes. She said they were waiting to hear back from MSM. 

Councilman George Jordan, a non-voting member of the MSM board, asked how an upgraded sound system would be paid for and expressed concern as to who would be liable if the business venture failed.

"In my experience (in business) 80 percent of all new business fail within the first five years," Jordan said. "If this venture is not successful, who is liable for the equipment of our partners?"

Spears said the equipment would be provided at no charge in exchange for the company's exclusive use of the theatre. He said while he appreciates Jordan's concerns about business failures, he was cautious before entering negotiations and felt very positively about the success of this venture.

"The backbone of the U.S. has been mom and pop businesses," Spears said. "The upgrades (to the sound and lighting equipment) are not permanent in a sense that they will be forever attached to the building."

Sharp explained that the companies could take their equipment back if the contract ever ended.

The MSM board was expected to vote on approving or denying the contract to manage the Imogene Theatre at 10 a.m. Friday. The results of that vote were not available at press time.