From: Columbus, OH
Registered: Feb 2003
posted August 15, 2003 11:56 AM
Movie-goers bid farewell
Drive-in theater near Reynoldsburg shuts off projector after nearly 40 years
Friday, August 15, 2003
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
As the credits for Bad Boys 2 and the Tomb Raider sequel rolled, the 40 East closed, ending almost 40 years of operation at 8659 E. Main St. near Reynoldsburg. That leaves the South Twin drive-in as the only remaining outdoor movie theater in Franklin County.
The 40 East lot is set to be sold today to the Ohio Department of Commerceís Division of State Fire Marshal for $1.4 million.
"Itís sad," said Tammy Eberhart of Whitehall. "Itís the end of an era."
She came last night with her daughter Kathryn and niece, Julie Moore. They said the informal, outdoor setting makes going to the drive-in more of a family event than going to an indoor theater.
Teri Crookshank of Reynoldsburg agreed. She brings her family to the 40 East "about every weekend that they have a kidsí movie."
Many adult viewers recalled coming to the 40 East years ago. Bud and Barbara Muldrew had their first date there 15 years ago.
"In high school, this was the place to cruise to," said John DeFourny of Clintonville.
But his children will have to find somewhere else to cruise.
In 2001, the drive-inís owner, Skip Yassenoff, called the nearby Division of State Fire Marshal, "just to touch bases with them and to register a friendly complaint."
For about 20 years, the division has been lighting fires for training exercises on its property directly to the east of 40 East. It sometimes created distractions for movie-goers.
The division had been trying to contact Yassenoff about buying the land. Though he originally did not intend to sell the property, "I was certainly thinking about the development potential of my ground," Yassenoff said.
He anticipated that, because of the growing residential development in the area, the 40 East eventually would be faced with the sort of complaints about nighttime light and noise from nearby residents that led to the shutdown of his Kingman Drive-In in Delaware last year.
However, he didnít think he could sell the land to developers as he did with Kingman because it bordered the fire marshalís training facility.
The best choice seemed to be to sell the land to the fire marshal, which hasnít defined its plans for the lot.
"We want to hold that area for potential future development, and currently we also like the idea of having a buffer to prevent residential areas from encroaching upon the western border of the fire marshalís office," said Bill Teets, spokesman for the Department of Commerce.
Yassenoff said the theater will not be allowed to stay open while the fire marshal decides what to do with the lot.
"Believe me, I tried. I said we could even reduce the price if I could stay for so many years," he said.
The Department of Commerce would not let Yassenoff continue to use the land due to liability issues, Teets said, much to the dismay of drive-in fan David Scofield of Lancaster.
"One isnít enough," he said of drive-in theaters.
Yassenoff will not relocate the 40 East. He doesnít think it is realistic to try to open a new drivein in central Ohio because of the cost of land, screens and construction.
He also owns the South Twin drive-in, 3050 S. High St. He said it will continue to operate and that he plans to expand it to accommodate more vehicles next year.
"They better not close that because I have a little 5-monthold baby who I want to experience the drive-in," Crookshank said.
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