Letter: Drive-in theater is not smart growth

To the editor,

In my opinion [a drive-in theater] is not smart growth. It’s foolish growth, really

In this day and age with all the new technological advancements in TV, computers, iPads, etc., you want to go backwards in bringing back an obsolete and not a good business investment by a local government or by a private business. I would never invest my money in a drive-in movie theater. In the privacy of your own home you could watch any movie whether it was on TV or in the theater of any date, time or place since movies have started.

The Southington drive-in theater is owned by the town (a nonprofit entity) and run/managed by local citizen volunteers and all the proceeds go to local non-profits/civic organizations for purchasing equipment and materials for the theater. Also it’s part of the town’s recreation department.

Materials and equipment for the theater costs around $80,000 per screen, not including the screen which costs around $100,000 (material and labor) plus for each screen. It’s not a profit making business for a town. The town took it over because of the land in 2004. The town took the movie screen with it and people got together to volunteer to work it for the kids. Mostly Disney movies are shown and not up-to-date new and recent ones are shown, and it’s no profit to the town with no money going into the general fund. Town has one screen only. Southington mill rate is 29.14 and its population is around 42,000.

The Barkhamsted drive-in theater, or Pleasant Valley, has one screen. The land is not owned by the private LLC who runs it in its entirety. The personnel property tax is around $2,800 and partial real estate tax is $854. Barkhamsted’s mill rate is 29.38 and its population is 3,772.

The Mansfield drive-in is privately owned and operated, has three screens and the land is used for flea markets, too, to bring in needed money for operation and maintenance of the theater. It’s been in existence since 1980. Taxes paid to the town are around $17,040.84 and personal property declaration tax is around $2,752. The mill rate is 29.87 and its population is around 8,520.

Naugatuck’s tax rate is 45.57 mills and has a population of around 31,659.

Being raised in Meriden and going to the Southington drive-in when I was young was nice at that time, but I love today’s new technology and wouldn’t want to go backwards, and besides it’s in my home where I live. That’s my opinion.

As a senior citizen my wife and I now live in Naugatuck. We would like to see more solid substantial growth like having a Southbury Green type development, like the plaza where Staples, Shoprite, Starbucks, Yankee Candle, etc. are) and have a Barnes & Noble Book store or box stores like a Christmas Tree Shop. An ideal location is the Peter Paul (Hershey) property on New Haven Road, which has stood vacant for decades. That’s smart growth.

The mayor should be more assertive in seeking face to face communications with them in a possible joint venture with them to develop it and if they back away, eminent domain the property for public use. The City of New London did it.

Charter, voucher and more private schools are needed to have our public schools have more competition and too reduce union costs. The local wastewater treatment facility should be regionalized to keep our upcoming sewer tax bill lower and reduce infrastructure costs. That’s smart growth in my opinion.

Stay on par with the Old Firehouse Road upcoming development and continue on thru Rubber Avenue. It’s a mess.

I’m surprised that the new mayor hasn’t thought of the enthusiastic activity going on in the USA new real estate developments of building communities with farms like Serenbe in Chattahoochee, Ga. Now that’s smart growth. And he praises his residential development where he lives? This would bring in a lot more tax money then drive-in theaters.

I’m afraid of the drive-in theater being a drug traffic attraction area, since we’re in between Waterbury and Bridgeport, cause lighting/noise issues and accumulate an abundance of teenagers in neighborhoods. I don’t want Naugatuck citizens’ public property being used for movie theaters or have a community theater (nonprofit entity). Drive-in theaters, as the business investors will tell you, it’s not a good investment and brings in very little amount of tax money, just for nostalgia reasons only.

Emidio C. Cerasale


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