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Garden Cinemas closed for repairs

Burst pipe, electrical system need to be fixed

The marquee at Garden Cinemas have temporarily gone dark. The theater has been closed since a water leak knocked out the building’s main electrical panel Monday. It is expected to take up to two weeks to fix.
Recorder/David Rainville

The marquee at Garden Cinemas have temporarily gone dark. The theater has been closed since a water leak knocked out the building’s main electrical panel Monday. It is expected to take up to two weeks to fix. Recorder/David Rainville

GREENFIELD — Repair crews are working to get the Garden Cinemas up and running after a burst water pipe damaged the Main Street theater’s electrical system.

The damage was discovered Monday morning, owner George Gohl said Wednesday. He said the seven-screen theater could be closed until Jan. 28 at the latest, though he hoped to be back in business early next week.

“This weekend is a big one for the movie business, because of the three-day weekend,” said Gohl.

He said his insurance will cover business lost during the closure, as well as the repairs. His only out-of-pocket expense will be the insurance deductible.

The building’s main electrical panel was damaged by water from a burst sprinkler pipe. Gohl expects that repairs will go quickly once all the materials are in place.

“Once the electrical panel arrives, the electricians will install it and reconnect all the wires, then we’ll be up and running” after an inspection, Gohl said.

Rated at 1,000 amps, the panel isn’t something you can just pick up at the local hardware store. Gohl said he ordered the panel Monday, and that it could take a week or more to be delivered. He estimated that it would take a couple of days to have it wired up and inspected.

The panel was damaged when a sprinkler pipe burst in an unheated rear section of the building.

The sprinklers are on a “dry” system, meaning that the pipes are normally empty, and are filled with water only when activated. When such systems are inspected, they are filled with water and drained afterward.

“Sometimes, some water gets left behind in the system,” explained Gohl.

That leftover water froze solid during the recent cold snap, but did not begin to leak until it thawed out during this week’s warm spell. When that happened, said Gohl, the system was tripped and gushed water into the rear of the building.

The electrical panel is one to two feet off the floor of an old boiler room, said Gohl, and water pooled past the bottom of the panel, shorting it out.

Gohl said the oil tanks in the boiler room are “long-gone,” so oil contamination was not a concern.

Though the panel feeds other businesses in the building, they were largely unaffected.

“We were able to re-wire the retail stores to the electrical system of another part of the building, and they were up and running the next day,” said Gohl.

Employees at Brad’s Place, the cafe next door to the theater, said the business did not lose power. Other shops in the building, including a tailor shop and nail salon, are normally closed on Mondays and were also unaffected.

The cinema, with its power-hungry projectors, could not be piggybacked onto the other electrical system, said Gohl.

Gohl was glad the problem occurred where it did, rather than flooding one of the theaters, projector rooms, or other in-use areas of the building.

Gohl said he will make an announcement about the town’s only theater’s re-opening as soon as possible.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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