Coldbrook Lions Kirk Longmire and Tim Jones at the drive-in theatre. - FILE
The Coldbrook Lions won’t have to worry about the closure of the Waterville airport impacting their drive-in movie theatre, says the county’s warden.
Club treasurer and Valley Drive-In project chairman Kirk Longmire said he went to Warden Diana Brothers to ask about the potential impact on the drive-in after discussions surrounding the closure of the neighbouring municipal airport intensified.
He said Brothers assured him verbally that the consultants who authored the province’s airport relocation study were specifically instructed to exclude the approximately 10 acres occupied by the drive-in. The theatre, which the Lions operate on land leased from the county, would be able to continue operating.
“We signed an extended lease with the municipality and spent a pile of money on the assumption we’d have a long-term lease to be there,” Longmire said.
While they don’t have this assurance in writing, Longmire said the Lions hold a 10-year lease for the property. The lease with the municipality was re-negotiated and extended after the Lions invested more than $100,000 in a new digital projector and a screen three years ago. Longmire said they wanted to extend the lease so they could finance the capital improvement project.
Land not necessary for Michelin expansion
The land identified as necessary for any potential expansion of the Michelin plant is at the western end of the airport property, Brothers said.
“I ensured that it was clear to both the province and Michelin that the lands occupied by the Valley Drive-In were not included in any Michelin expansion discussions,” Brothers said.
She added that she’s happy to request council provide the Coldbrook Lions with the municipality’s commitment, in writing, to preserving the drive-in property. Brothers plans to do this at the upcoming committee of the whole session.
“The Coldbrook Lions Club contributes greatly to the community and the Valley Drive-In puts a considerable amount of money back into the local economy,” Brothers said.
She said it’s “well past the time” that the lease agreement between the municipality and the Coldbrook Lions should be reviewed by both parties to ensure that the county is treating the club in the same manner that they deal with other community organizations that lease property from the municipality.
As part of this, Brothers will be seeking a commitment from council for the Coldbrook Lions to apply for a property tax exemption as a charitable organization. This could mean an annual saving of $3,400 for the club.
The Lions currently pay $7,500 a year in rent to the Waterville Airport Co-operative Limited to help subsidize the operation of the airport. Considering that the airport will close at the end of September and the Lions are a non-profit organization, Brothers said she would be seeking council approval to make the Lions’ use of the drive-in property in the future rent-free.