Sparta Theater reopens for business

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    SPARTA-Something isn't right about the Sparta Theater; not the missing cover to an electrical panel in the basement, says the building's operator. That's been fixed, she says. "We've had nothing but aggravation for a year now," said Diane Walker, general manager of Galaxy Theatres, which has been running the movie house on Woodport Road for the past seven years. "I don't think the town wants the theater here. They seem to be doing everything they can to make life difficult for us." Sparta inspectors had ordered the theater closed through the past weekend and into this week after discovering a violation of the township's uniform construction code. "There was no danger," said Walker. "There wasn't a customer who could get within 10 feet of it." Walker said it wasn't until Tuesday afternoon that township officials relayed word that the theater could reopen. She had been unable to contact township officials to take the necessary steps to repair the violation because the municipal building had been shut down until Monday with its own problems n a broken boiler. "The town should have made itself available so that we could open for the weekend," she said. "A supermarket wouldn't have been happy if thousands of people were trying to stock up before a storm." Walker said closure of the theater for an entire weekend would generally result in close to $10,000 in lost revenue, but because of the snow, it was tough to predict just how much the business stood to lose. "It's hard to pay bills when you're not making money," she said. "We still have to heat the building." Walker said she had been expecting township officials to issue her a new operating permit last week when they came to inspect a repaired circuit breaker. Instead, Walker said, they shut the building down, and she had difficulty contacting them since. Repeated attempts to contact Jan Op't Hof, Sparta's construction official responsible for closing the theater, were not returned. Walker admitted some seats in the movie house may be broken, but said Galaxy Theatres tries to maintain the building while keeping admission, $7 for adults and $4.50 for seniors and children, at a minimum. "We provide as nice an atmosphere as we possibly can," said Walker, who has been employed by Galaxy Theatres for the past 15 years. Galaxy Theatres, based in Guttenberg, also operates the theater in Newton.