County commissioners to discuss drive-in's fate

The drama over the future of Craig's drive-in theater may unfold Thursday at the Moffat County commissioners' meeting.

The eyesore that has plagued Craig's east entrance of town for the past 15 years is just outside the city limits and has been closed for more than 10 years.

In the last month, a variety of ideas have surfaced over how to handle the aging wooden structure owned by Stan Dewsnup. At a June 23 meeting, commissioners reported proposals have ranged from tearing down the structure to reopening it.

Commissioner Les Hampton later asked whether Roy Mason, fire chief of Craig Fire/Rescue, could perform a controlled burn on the structure.

"We (the fire department) would like to do it, the only problem we have is an electrical issue of a power line that may run close to the site," Mason had said. "It is no problem as long as there is an agreement and elimination of the (electrical) problem."

Other obstacles that stand in the way of the fire plan include the city of Craig's refusal to provide resources for the project and the property owner hasn't agreed to the plan.

The last correspondence the board had with the owner was when he said he planned to reopen the drive-in theater in May 2002. Attempts to reach Dewsnup by telephone Tuesday were not successful.

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said the city would like to see change come to the area.

"We would sure like to see it cleaned up," he said.

But Ferree said he was concerned about setting a precedent of using county and city resources to abate a structure on private property without having the means to get reimbursed.

The city hasn't invested any money in cleaning up the site, nor has the city's building inspector checked the structure for safety, Ferree said.

However, the city has dealt with the dilemma of paying to tear down antiquated structures in the past after contacting property owners.

In 1996, the city condemned the Cosgriff Hotel. After the city notified property owners, the owners failed to either fix up or tear down the structure. The city then bulldozed the building and filed a lien to retain the property. Today, the city has the land on Victory Way up for sale.

Another situation involving the city condemning structures occurred a few months ago with the former White Horse Inn on Yampa Avenue. After city officials condemned that building, property owners paid to have it demolished, Ferree said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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