Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Conneaut Lake Park Poised to Spring Back to Life

Not long ago, the future did not look bright for Conneaut Lake Park. Finding itself mired in debt, the park sat idle for two years. Then--as if to add insult to injury--the park lost its historic ballroom to arson, and the building which formerly housed the park's bowling alley collapsed shortly thereafter. It was beginning to look like it would take a miracle for Conneaut Lake Park to ever reopen. Fortunately, small miracles have been plentiful in recent months and suddenly it has become difficult to stay on top of all the positive news coming out of Conneaut Lake!

In addition to securing a lease agreement which will enable the park to open 90% of its rides for the 2009 season, efforts are also underway to restore the restroom facilities at Camperland, renovate the boat dock spaces on the lake, and completely rebuild the park's historic 650-foot boardwalk. A full line-up of shows, dances, and holiday events is also planned for 2009. The Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park have even launched a new web site, Conneaut Lake Properties, to entice potential developers, investors, and operators to come to the park and grow their respective business segments for the betterment of the entire community.

In another interesting development, last week the Meadville Tribune reported that First Capital Finance Inc.--the same agency which purchased a large chunk of Conneaut Lake Park's debt from Summit Township back in December 2008--is now considering purchasing even more. The park currently owes close to $900,000 to the Conneaut Lake Joint Municipal Authority for unpaid mortgage bills and sewer service charges, and the authority will be accepting bids on that debt until April 29. An attorney for First Capital Finance Inc. has indicated that they are likely to submit a bid, and maintains that the agency has good intentions and seeks only to help save the park. While such actions raise all sorts of red flags, at this point we can only hope that they are sincere.

If the stars continue to align in Conneaut Lake Park's favor, we just may witness one of the most remarkable preservation stories in industry history. If you'd like to take part in making this dream a reality, you can do so by volunteering for one of the upcoming "Spruce Up The Park" events, scheduled for April 25-26 and May 2-3. Detailed information can be found on the park's web site as well as CLP Junction, although the latter may be a safer bet because the park's web site is also under reconstruction right now! More power to them.