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The Municipal Council will vote May 5 on whether the city should acquire the Capitol Theater, a building described by supporters as a "historical treasure" and by opponents as a "white elephant."

Mayor Newell Daines told approximately 100 people attending a meeting that he would initiate a property trade if the council makes a favorable decision.Theater owner Eugene Needham has agreed to trade the 65-year-old theater for two city-owned houses on 100 East. Daines said he has met with owners of Westates Theaters, who have a lease on the building until May 1993.

"We found these people to be cooperative and flexible and interested in sharing use of the building. The city would be able to use the theater 60 days of the year and the lessees would have an abatement of rent for those days," he said.

Although most people expressed support for the proposal, former City Councilman Darwin Larsen said he strongly opposes the idea.

"I predict that at some point the theater would start costing taxpayers a lot of money," Larsen said.

Renovation costs are estimated at $450,000.

Keith Hansen, who owns the Utah Theater, located one block from the Capitol, said it would be unfair competition for the building to be renovated by the city as long as Westates still occupies it.

Stuart Hardman, a semiretired electrician, said he worked for many years on the Capitol and would be willing to donate his expertise to help restore it.