- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - The Chautauqua Institution will be allowed to move ahead with plans to demolish and rebuild its historic open-air theater after a judge Thursday declined a request by preservationists to block the project.

The Committee to Preserve the Historic Chautauqua Amphitheater called the denial a travesty.

“We fundamentally believe Chautauqua deserves better,” the group said in a statement after state Supreme Court Justice Frank Sedita III lifted a temporary restraining order that had been in place since late January.

The Chautauqua Institution plans to knock down the 123-year-old structure known as the “Amp” and replace it with an updated replica with a larger stage area, new orchestra pit, improved backstage amenities and access for the disabled.

Countless notable figures have appeared at the Amp for lectures and performances during Chautauqua’s annual summer seasons, including Amelia Earhart, Ella Fitzgerald and Robert Kennedy.

“Our goal has not changed,” administrators said in a statement after the ruling, “create a state-of-the-art renewed Amp that will carry on the facility’s legacy as the heart and soul of our institution for generations to come.”

The preservation group, along with five property owners at the institution, had argued in their legal challenge that the project failed to comply with local and state laws. They said the Amp could be improved without being replaced.

“Instead,” their statement said, “a deeply divided community will get a $41.5 million structure devoid of the original Amp’s authenticity and history.”

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