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Demonstrators act up for Grandview Drive-In Despite effort, owner of property doubtful

Tony Troidl would like to think there's hope for at least one more year of drive-in movies at the Grandview Drive-In in Evans.

But property owner Ed Carbeck's letter to the Town of Evans paints a bleaker picture for the theater, which is on property that is on the drawing boards to become a Wal-Mart Supercenter. It calls for a more immediate demolition.

Troidl led a group of about 35 people in a demonstration Wednesday afternoon in front of the drive-in. He said that he has been in contact with Wal-Mart and that the chain wouldn't object to one more summer of movies on the screen at the intersection of Route 5 and Lake Avenue.

Wal-Mart still has to go through environmental review and the Town of Evans' approval process, which is expected to last at least through the fall.

"It would be a travesty to have this landmark theater removed before absolutely necessary," Troidl said.

He said he had arranged the demonstration -- on 24 hours' notice and at 4 p.m. when many people are still working -- because of the impending demolition. He said he had been told by workers that they planned to start work this week on whatever can be done without a demolition permit.

Evans Code Enforcement Officer Charles LaBarbara said Wednesday that no demolition permits had been applied for on the property yet.

Meanwhile, Troidl, founder of the Friends of the Grandview, said that the group has found volunteers who are willing to fix up the old screen and run it this summer and that theater operator Larry Geitner is willing to run it another year, too.

However, the property is owned by Carbeck, an East Aurora businessman.

In an April 2 letter to Evans Supervisor Robert Catalino II, Carbeck said he already has engaged contractors for asbestos removal, air monitoring, permit acquisition and demolition.

Carbeck also said in the letter that he had reached a tentative agreement with Geitner to operate the theater from July to Labor Day last summer, but Geitner never returned it and the drive-in never opened for the 2006 season. Neither Carbeck nor Geitner returned calls to comment Wednesday.

If Carbeck decides to move forward with the demolition, he is likely to run into opposition. Former Buffalo Common Council Member Mary Martino, who owns a home in Angola, said she believes the demolition would be a disturbance of the site, which couldn't be allowed under state Department of Environmental Conservation review rules.

"I believe there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed," she said. "I don't see how this could happen if the regulations are being followed. We've asked the DEC to follow their own regulations"

Tim Tielman of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo said he has written to the DEC, asking the agency to notify the involved parties that regulations specifically ban such activities while environmental review is pending. Tielman said the regulations specifically refer to demolition permits, saying they shouldn't be issued.

Martino said some of the problems include a high water table on the property and potential run-off into Delaware Creek.

For most of the people holding signs outside the theater Wednesday afternoon as a few sprinkles of rain started coming down, the issue is simpler than that: They want their drive-in.

"My parents brought me here when I was little; I take my kids now," said Debbi Snyder of Lake View.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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