State board grants Garden Cinemas extension for chairlift 

  • The Garden Cinemas in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/3/2019 9:47:59 PM

GREENFIELD — The Garden Cinemas has received an extension.

After a meeting with the state Architectural Access Board (AAB) on Monday, the downtown movie theater has until Jan. 15 to purchase and install a new chairlift.

“We’re still waiting on estimates, then we will place an order (for the chairlift),” co-owner George Gohl said in an interview in June. “Then it will be 16 weeks until its installed. At this point, it won’t be installed until October.”

Since 2012, the AAB — which develops and enforces regulations designed to make public buildings accessible to and safe for people with disabilities — and the Commission on Disability Access in Greenfield have been working with the owners, Gohl and Bill Gobeille, to make changes to the cinemas to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Originally, the board ruled Garden Cinemas had until July 18 to comply or face $1,000 a day in fines.

The two owners submitted a request for an extension on June 20 and received approximately 60 to 70 letters in support, according to AAB officials.

Neither Gohl or Gobeille could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

MJ Adams, director of Greenfield’s Community and Economic Development, said the Commission on Disability Access is grateful the board granted the extension and said the hope is to get the project started as soon as possible.

“It’s time to put the shoulder to the wheel and install the lift for the fall,” Adams said. “We have been working with (the owners) to see if we could assist them because we consider them a critical resource. We honor and respect having it accessible for all people. Moving forward with that, we need to get more bids on the project and get it done in six months.”

The next meeting of the Commission on Disability Access is scheduled for Thursday, July 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the John Zon Community Center.

In addition to granting the extension, the AAB also requested the Garden Cinemas submit “monthly reports on the status of construction in the building ... on the first of each month, with the first report to be received no later than August 1.”

“There was a long list of things to meet the new code as far as ADA for the Garden,” Gohl said previously. “Over the years, we’ve added new hand railings, seating for wheelchairs, hearing-assisted devices, closed captioning — it’s over $100,000 getting upgrades.”

Last on the list of projects is a new chairlift; the current lift was installed in the early 1980s.

Gohl said previously that he and Gobeille were able to receive a loan through a Community Development Block Grant via the Greenfield Planning Board for a new chairlift which, including some construction work they did themselves, will cost $45,000 to $60,000.

In the AAB notice of action, officials also added that “if the Offer of Credit Accommodations from Greenfield Savings Bank referenced in the Petitioner’s submission is rescinded or materially altered, the Board reserves the right to revisit this decision.”

However, that work is also contingent upon a roof replacement project on the front part of the building. The owners have received a loan to fund the roof project.

On June 27, Gohl posted on the Greenfield Garden Cinemas GoFundMe page, “I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the Greenfield Garden Cinemas. Without you, our patrons and friends, we would not be here, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The GoFundMe account at was created June 20 and has raised $4,300 of a $10,000 goal.

“We still have a few more projects to do,” Gohl wrote. “We need to replace three outdated exit doors and change our ticket counter and concession counter to be ADA compliant. Any additional funds raised will go for general unexpected expenses. I would like to thank everyone in advance for your help in saving and improving the Garden building and the Greenfield Garden Cinemas.” ​​


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