Last picture show? Greenfield Garden faces closure or fines

  • The Garden Cinemas lobby, bisected by a set of stairs. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The owners of the Garden Cinemas in Greenfield are on track for a new wheelchair lift that can accommodate motorized chairs, but won’t be able to meet a state deadline. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Garden Cinemas installed a second set of lower railings to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/18/2019 8:02:39 PM

GREENFIELD — Come July 18, Greenfield Garden Cinemas may close its doors or face $1,000 a day in fines from the Architectural Access Board (AAB) because its chair lift is not accessible to motorized wheelchairs.

Since 2012, the owners, George Gohl and Bill Gobeille, have made changes to the cinemas to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“There was a long list of things to meet the new code as far as ADA for the Garden,” Gohl said. “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 the chair lift, which was installed in the early 1980s. There is a deadline from the Architectural Access Board — which develops and enforces regulations designed to make public buildings accessible to and safe for people with disabilities — of July 19.

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

However, that work is also contingent upon a roof replacement project on the front part of the building.

“The AAB gave us 90 days to get into compliance,” Gohl said. “After speaking with two different elevator companies, even if we ordered back in April when we were approved for funding, it wouldn’t be done in August.”

The owners received a loan to fund the roof project. Gohl said they are requesting another extension for both projects to be completed.

“We’re still waiting on estimates, then we will place an order (for the chair lift),” Gohl said. “Then it will be 16 weeks until its installed. At this point, it won’t be installed until October.”

The owners are urging people not only to support the Garden by going to the movies and buying concessions, but by also calling, writing or emailing to the AAB requesting an extension.

“We don’t want to have to close,” Gohl said. “But we don’t want to pay a $1,000-a-day fine either.”

​​​​​Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.




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