December 1st, 2015

krazy koati

Cause maybe they've seen us

So before closing that Saturday, and the Pumpkin Fest trip, let me pause for the strange world of Conneaut Lake Park news.

Conneaut Lake Park, the amusement park, has been operating in bankruptcy since last year. Bankruptcy was a desperate last move for the park, filed last year just before the sheriff's sale that would have auctioned it off for back taxes. They didn't take the move lightly, since, you know, bankruptcy costs a lot of money.

The park's total debts are estimated at $3.9 million. That's down from the estimated five-to-six million I remember from last year. I don't know whether the reduction reflects their bookkeeping being straightened out, or whether at least some creditors have given up and cancelled debts. That said, for all that the park looked functional when we were there in October, and for how much better it looked compared to last year, it still lost about nine thousand dollars over the course of October, and lost about $599,000 since the bankruptcy filing in December 2014. (About half of that appears to be loans taken out by the trustees for park improvements, if I read the news right, which makes the addition to the debt ... sad but probably a long-term wise action.)

A pair of bankruptcy reorganization plans were scheduled to be heard in court on Monday the 30th. (I don't know if they were heard. I haven't the heart to look.) The park trustees --- a new set compared to those who'd filed for bankruptcy, and who'd been running the park the years before --- put forth a plan to repay the back debts over the coming twenty years. The Conneaut Lake Joint Municipal Authority, the park's main creditor, complains there's no reason to think the park is ever going to be profitable, and they've been owed nearly $684,000 just for sewer facilities and services. (The park stopped paying its taxes and other bills for several years, some of them from the park's ownership by repeat felon Garry Harris, who'd put up $100,000 in gold coins for his deposit; some of them because the park had no income for years.) The Joint Municipal Authority calls for shutting the park down and selling off what can be sold. Meanwhile the State of Pennsylvania doesn't want the park closed and sold off just yet, on the grounds that the new trustees haven't had the chance to provably fail. The State has standing in this because of the park's status as a trust operated on behalf of the people of the area. (Also, according to someone at the fan/hater site, Garry Harris filed an objection to selling anything on the grounds that he still owns some of the property, although it's hard to see how he could.)

And to add a round of chaos to the proceedings: remember the Hotel Conneaut? It's a grand-old-hotel style place on the edge of the lake, and the edge of the park. It's long had a contentious coexistence with the park. The hotel filed for bankruptcy in October. Shortly after, the park's trustees locked out the hotel's management company, Park Restoration LLC. The squabbling between interested parties at the park extends to passive-aggressive naming of park components. The issue was $140,000 in past-due bills owed on various lease agreements and utilities, according to the park trustees' executive director, Mark Turner. The hotel was padlocked and no-trespassing signs were posted, just like in a cartoon.

The park trustees hope they can reopen the hotel in 2016, but only its dining, banquet, and tavern operations. The rooms hotel rooms are ``not in usable condition,'' Turner says. Of more than a hundred guest rooms ``there may be a select number of rooms that are usable,'' Turner estimates, and that number is somewhere around a dozen. And the hotel was still booking regularly up through the lockout.

Hard to credit? Well, 43 of the 97 reviews of the hotel at rate the place as ``terrible''. The most optimistically headlined reviews have names like ``What an experience'' and `A classic but don't expect upscale amenities'' (``Let's say that the place has quirks'') and ``Bring your sense of humor and adventure, then simply enjoy!' That last headline could be Conneaut Lake Park's motto.

I hope there's to be a next season for the park.

Trivia: The twelfth month of the Babylonian calendar, Shegurku, was dubbed Adaru in the Semitic calendar and Xanthikos in the Seleucid calendar. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool's Gold, David Rickard.

PS: A Timeline Of Mathematics Education, just a nice something that crossed my Twitter timeline.