Aurora, Colorado’s Cinemark multiplex has been closed since July 20, when a masked man opened fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. 12 people were killed; 58 more were injured. A month later, the town is doing its best to move forward — but officials there still aren’t sure what should be done with the building where a dozen moviegoers lost their lives.
That’s where Aurora’s residents come in. The AP writes that the town is now directing citizens to an online survey, where they can express what they think should happen to the theater. “It is our hope that the entire community will participate and benefit from the citywide healing process,” the survey’s first and only question reads. “Many people have asked about the future of Aurora’s Century 16 theater. We want to know your thoughts. Please take a few minutes to tell us your thoughts. These comments will be shared with Cinemark for consideration in their decision making process.”
Although the survey’s responses aren’t visible, they presumably include a few variations on these main options:
1. Tear down the theater entirely and erect a memorial in its stead
2. Tear down the theater and replace it with another multiplex
3. Reopen the multiplex, though not the theater where the shootings occurred
4. Reopen the entire multiplex
Other tragedy sites have employed similar strategies after fatal shootings. Columbine High School tore down the library where 10 students were killed in 1999 and replaced it with an atrium, a solution that dramatically changed the look of the school without altering it completely. Fort Hood, Texas is building an entirely new Soldier Readiness Processing Center to replace the building where 13 soldiers and civilians died in 2009.
Virginia Tech, by contrast, opted to reopen Norris Hall, where the majority of 2007’s horrific massacre took place. “After considering all points of view that were offered, I determined the best course of action to enable the College of Engineering to continue its healing was to move forward with phased re-use of the building,” the university’s president said months after the shooting.
Which of these options do you think would be most healing for the people of Aurora? Or should the town try doing something else entirely with its tainted theater?