MAHONING TOWNSHIP, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It could soon be the final curtain for a drive-in theater in Carbon County. The Mahoning Drive-In theater recently found out about the future plans for the property.
The Mahoning Drive-In is facing permanent shut down and demolition and is set to be replaced by a solar panel farm.
The owners of the drive-in are pleading for the community’s help to save the theater.
The property owner has taken the steps to sell the land to a clean energy company out of Connecticut. Those with the drive-in say they aren’t going down without a fight.
“Our fight is to preserve this property. What we have built on this property, what has been here for 72 years on this property,” exclaimed Virgil Cardamone, partner, booker and curator at the Mahoning Drive-In theater.
The news came as a shock to Cardamone and the rest of the drive-in team just two weeks ago.
“For us, our impression was that we had first shot at this property when the drive in owner was ready to sell. So the idea of the rug getting pulled out from under us, from this news, we had no way to react,” said Cardamone.
According to the Mahoning Township zoning officer, a solar farm is not a permitted use within the township. The landowner needs a zoning variance, meaning its up to the board whether or not the solar farm takes the drive-in’s place.
Local residents say they would be heartbroken to see it go.
“It has a lot of history,” said Kay Boyle, Jim Thorpe resident. “I think the young kids, teenagers like that, kind of place to sort of date like we did years ago.”
“The Mahoning Drive-In theater has been a part of the area for more than 70 years,” said Gerry Andrews, Lehighton resident. “It’s part of our history in town, and that’s sad because there’s a lot of history that’s gone.”
The owners plan to hold a rally in the coming weeks, hoping the community supports their fight to preserve their spot.