A one-year lease between the town and the Westport Community Theatre has been approved for the troupe to continue using space for performances at Town Hall.

The new, shorter pact was unanimously approved Wednesday by the Board of Selectmen, after approval last week by the Board of Finance.

According to the lease agreement, the theater will pay the town $1,075 a month -- which total $12,900 annually, a 3 percent increase over the current lease, First Selectman Jim Marpe told the finance board at its May 20 meeting.

The finance board's approval came after Marpe's presentation, which included an explanation of the terms of the lease for the theater's space on the first floor of Town Hall.

He said it includes the main theater -- which seats about 150 people -- and several other rooms measuring about 3,600 square feet in total. "Previous theater leases have been for lengths of five or 10 years," he said. "In this lease, I am proposing limiting the term to one year, with a potential one-year extension at the town's option."

He said the switch to a one-year lease is "in line with this board's recent direction to have the town enter into shorter-term lease arrangements."

Another reason, Marpe said, is that he intends "to undertake a comprehensive professional space analysis of Town Hall." He said that has not been done, to his knowledge, since the building was converted from a school in 1977.

"We need to conduct this space analysis to examine our current utilization, our ability to efficiently serve the public and determine whether our general municipal needs are being adequately met with the space we currently have," he said.

He said that, over the years, some parts of town operations have been out-posted to other buildings when they "might be more appropriately situated in Town Hall to better integrate services and be more convenient to citizens." He said there is also a "serious shortage of conference room space."

"The bottom line is that there are many things that need to be looked at in Town Hall with regard to how we are organized, structured, and the way our space is currently laid out and utilized," he said. "For that reason, I am not inclined to extend (the lease) of the community theater, which consumes a large part of Town Hall space more than one year while we are engaged in this exercise."

Marpe had brought two community theater members with him to the finance meeting to answer any questions, but there were none from the board or any discussion prior to its vote.