austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We lifted this house

So, the Conneaut Lake Park news. It didn't seem likely they were gathering reactions to the Mission Amusement show featuring the park last year (we actually haven't had the chance to watch it yet as we were off on the Ohio River Parks Tour, but we've heard about bits of it) and, no, that wasn't it. What had transpired on Thursday was news about the Trustees overseeing the park for the people of Conneaut Lake. They had a consent decree, the age-old tradition of declaring that nobody was doing anything the least wrong and they'll never do it again.

The core is that the Trustees agreed, to a person, to resign. A new governing board took over as a temporary affair, and money which the Trustees had in an insurance policy against bad management on their parts (something I didn't realize existed but then realized was of course a good insurance niche) would be paid out to the park. The new management, part of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, put together a plan to repay the back taxes (according to the Meadville Tribune, a total of $917,874.87 in back taxes, interest, and penalties, going back to 1997, which --- so you can understand just how long ago that was and how patient governments have been in demanding it --- is a year before the Beloit Mindset List became an Internet Thing) over the course of four years. The plan has to be approved by the county, of course, and it appears there are multiple governmental bodies owed their share so goodness knows that arranging a satisfactory plan is going to be a mess; as best I can determine none of the affected government bodies have made any decisions about it. But the payout for the trustee's insurance, about a hundred thousand dollars, is supposed to be the down payment on the back taxes which I would imagine shows a seriousness about the plan.

The Economic Progress Alliance has plans to expand the park's business from the summer season to year-round events --- Mark Turner, executive director of the alliance said it has to be done to achieve self-sufficiency --- with a performing arts center, an updated exposition area and outdoor amphitheater, and generally making the park something that earns revenue year-round. Turner hopes to organize ten to fifteen million dollars into park renovation and development, which would seem to be almost exactly what would save the park: it would clear out the existing debts the park has and probably cover repairing or replacing the most desperately shabby structures, and then probably be enough money to build new attractions or provide a reserve against further catastrophes.

But, of course, it's easy to declare your financial woes over when you figure there'll be fifteen million dollars coming in. I don't know why the Economic Progress Alliance thinks this a particularly likely or achievable amount of money to be bringing in, or whether they actually will. At least Sadsbury Township, one of the less-owed municipalities, agreed to coordinate a meeting of elected officials from the different agencies. The commissioners of Crawford County delayed voting on whether to join the sheriff's sale. Turner did say the Alliance was considering whether a federal bankruptcy filing might be best for the park's survival, or to appeal to the state Attorney General for an intervention to halt the tax sale. Since the park is held as a public trust apparently there's some uncertainty about whether the Attorney General has to be involved in any changes in the park's status.

The next public Trustees meeting is scheduled for the 22nd of July, a couple days after ``Blast From The Past'' weekend, showing exhibits from Pennsylvania and Ohio parks ``that have closed and ones that still exist''.

Trivia: A 1709 elections law in the Province of New-Jersey specified that all freeholders possessed of real estate or personal property worth £50 were entitled to vote, and that the counties were the basis of representation in the provincial legislature. Not until 1725 did a law specify how elections were to be conducted. Source: New Jersey From Colony To State, 1609 - 1789, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: Bob-Lo: An Island In Troubled Waters, Annessa Carlisle. (It's actually not a long book, but I've had little reading time this past week. Report to follow.)

Tags: amusement parks, conneaut lake park revisited, west pennsylvania parks tour
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