Work begins to turn former theater into park

SANDUSKY The old Sandusky Drive-In has finally reached "The End." It's bein
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



The old Sandusky Drive-In has finally reached "The End."

It's being demolished to make way for a new city park.

Workers from Affiliated Environmental Services Inc., a Sandusky company that specializes in asbestos removal, began removing chunks of the screen last week. They are expected to finish work next week and turn the site over to Barnes Nursery, which will remove the rest of the structures.

The former drive-in theater site, on Cleveland Road east of Sandusky, will become part of a new section of Sandusky parks bordering the east end of Sandusky Bay.

The site will provide a parking lot and entrance to a trail.

Built in 1949 by Earl Seitz, the theater closed in 2001 and the property was put on the market.

The Trust for Public Land bought the 13.5-acre parcel in October for $464,000, with half of the money coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's program to protect shorelines and half coming from the state's Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, said Dave Vasarhelyi, project manager for the trust's Cleveland office.

The drive-in parcel will provide access to 185 acres of new Sandusky park land along the east bay and in the marshes north of Sandusky Griffing Airport.

Demolition of the drive-in is being carried out using about $65,000 of grant money from two Sandusky foundations: the Frost Parker Foundation and the Randolph J. and Estelle M. Dorn Foundation, Vasarhelyi said.

The first part of the demolition is being carried out by a crew of seven Affiliated Environmental workers who have been removing the white concrete asbestos sheeting that provided the white screen for the drive-in's movies. The material is placed in bags, which are placed in a plastic-lined trash bin. The material will be taken to Ottawa County's landfill, said Steve Oney, an Affiliated Environmental Supervisor.

Affiliated also is removing sections of the fence contaminated by asbestos, Oney said.

When Affiliated finishes its work, Barnes Nursery will remove the screen's steel frame and uproot the speaker poles, Sharon Barnes said. The steel from the site will be recycled, she said.

"We'll recycle everything that we can," she said.

The site should be cleared off in two to three weeks, she said.

Oney said that as his company carries out its work, former patrons of the drive-in have been stopping by to chat and to share fond remembrances about the films they saw at the theater -- and the films they ignored.

"Most of them said they never saw the movie. They parked in the last couple of rows," Oney said.