Future of New York’s Chautauqua amphitheater sparks divide

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (AP) — The most vigorous debate the historic Chautauqua (shuh-TAW’-kwuh) Institution Amphitheater will see this summer is likely to be about the future of the lecture hall itself.

A plan to demolish and rebuild the outdoor venue in southwestern New York already has emotions running high.

Preservationists say there must be a better way than to knock down the 122-year-old venue where President Franklin Roosevelt gave his 1936 “I hate war” speech and where Amelia Earhart, Duke Ellington and scores of others have appeared.

Administrators say the reconstruction is necessary for the viability of the institution — and they say little of the hall’s original construction remains anyway.

Leaders say they will spend the summer gauging public opinion and examining options with the hope of having a resolution by August.