Bulletin editorial: Savor Cottage View Drive-In before final credits rollThe remaining few weeks of this 2012 drive-in season mark the final chapter for the Cottage View, which is set to be the site of a large Walmart store that city officials hope will spur other commercial growth east of Highway 61 north of Keats Avenue.
The plot wasn’t complicated, but this story took a long time to reach its final chapter.
More than four decades ago, an entrepreneurial father-son duo bought up undeveloped Twin Cites properties, with plans to sell the land to developers as the region’s population grew. To cover costs in the intervening years, they used a few of the undeveloped sites as drive-in movie theaters.
Most of those properties were sold long ago, presumably to accommodate housing growth or other development.
One property never was sold for development and so provided 47 years of outdoor movie entertainment.
That site, of course, is the Cottage View Drive-In.
The remaining few weeks of this 2012 drive-in season mark the final chapter for the Cottage View, which is set to be the site of a large Walmart store that city officials hope will spur other commercial growth east of Highway 61 north of Keats Avenue.
Reaction to the pending development plan has predictably — and understandably — fallen into two general categories. There are those who eagerly await a Walmart Supercenter and the added jobs, increased property tax base and discount-retail prices it could provide. Falling on the other side have been local residents and drive-in enthusiasts from beyond south Washington County who bemoan the loss of an iconic landmark at the hands of the retail behemoth.
Rising above that debate has been the soft-spoken drive-in owner Gerry Herringer. Herringer — who, by his own account, has mixed emotions as he inks the deal that will do in the drive-in — has demonstrated small-town business grace as he begins to close the book on the last holdout of the business venture he pursued with his father. He has been visible at public meetings. He has answered questions. He has shown a genuine interest in the community’s interests. Of course, he has wanted to sell the land for many years, but he also hoped for a well-planned development to take the drive-in’s place. He believes Cottage Grove is getting that, and city leaders believe they are approving that.
We hope both prove correct. (Still, like others we wonder if Walmart traffic can in fact be accommodated by a few relatively minor traffic upgrades accompanying the store’s opening, as city studies show. Traveling the main intersections along East Point Douglas Road that will serve Walmart during peak traffic times could leave one feeling only cautiously optimistic.)
In the coming weeks, Cottage Grove-area residents should savor the fleeting opportunity to enjoy a family friendly destination that many have overlooked despite its backyard proximity. The drive-in likely has a few more weekends left of this final season. So bundle up, fill a car with friends and family and head to the Cottage View on a Friday or Saturday evening.
It may be your last time to savor a film beneath the stars before this story ends.