Coming soon: A drive-in theater?

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It's been more than a decade since residents have enjoyed a flick at Craig's drive-in movie theater, but that opportunity may come around again soon.

One indication that outdoor movies may be making a comeback is an "Opening Soon" sign recently posted at the drive-in

Another clue is conversations between drive-in owner Stan Dewsnup and some Moffat County officials.

Dewsnup could not be reached for comment by telephone on Monday. But Moffat County Planning Director Sue Graler said Dewsnup has completed a list of improvements at the drive-in near the west end of town. County and city officials, who considered the run-down facility an eyesore, have long requested improvements to the site.

Frustrated city and county officials have even talked about tearing down the structure, but stopped short, fearing the legal implications.

The drive-in lies just outside the city limits, falling under the jurisdiction of the county.

"I think it'd be a nice improvement for the community if it were opened again," Graler said.

Dewsnup has applied a fresh coat of paint to most of the viewing screen. The theater owner plans to broadcast movie sound over a radio frequency that motorists can tune into while sitting in their cars, Graler said. This may replace the old-fashioned speakers that were once hooked on to car windows.

Dewsnup has also reportedly boarded up a concession stand that was overflowing with debris and repaired the box office and a fence surrounding the theater grounds.

"For three years we've been in communication with Dewsnup and he's never taken action," Graler said. "This year he's painted and went to the expense to get a sign, so I believe he's going to reopen. Why else would he go through all that trouble?"

Communication between county employees and Dewsnup suggests that he may try to have his property added to a register of historic places. If he's successful, the theater could become a draw for out-of-towners and history buffs, Graler said.

People will still be drawn to the outdoors to view a motion picture because the experience is a dying tradition, she added. If the theater reopens, Craig will be one of the last towns in Colorado with a drive-in theater and the only one in Northwest Colorado.

There are a dozen other operating drive-in movie theaters around the state, the closest tow are in Fort Collins and Montrose.

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

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