Posted Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:48 AM | Contributed by Jeff
A revised disclosure statement for Conneaut Lake Park's bankruptcy plan should be filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Western Pennsylvania by today while park officials plan to meet with some of the park's main creditors next week, according to Mark Turner, executive director of Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park. The revised disclosure statement will outline how Conneaut Lake Park plans to reorganize its almost $4 million worth of debt, Turner told board members of Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park at their meeting Tuesday night at the amusement park.
Read more from The Meadville Tribune.
Seems odd. Debtors file disclosure statements along with their plans and then ask creditors to approve their plan of reorganization. But here the debtor is seeking to retain a consultant to help evaluate expansion plans and the feasibility of reopening the water park. I would have expected them to do that before they filled their plan and disclosure statement. What exactly is the park asking it's creditors to vote on at this point?
She's been on life support for a very long time now. I know it's hard decision t make, but, don't you think it's time to pull the plug?
I stopped by last weekend for their $5 wristband Sunday, largely out of pity. Despite it being so cheap it wasn't crowded at all, even for a discount day. The weather was looking pretty rough so that probably kept people in. Surprisingly every single ride was running, including the tumble bug and the train, both of which were closed last time I went there.
On Blue Streak the front car wasn't being used and a row was missing a lap bar all together. The ride op was smoking on the platform and was also acting rather brash in his spieling. Meanwhile, the tunnel is being reconstructed and is half-finished and dripping water in a few places...
Devil's Den on the other hand looked like it had recently been restored and was quite fun, despite the nasty gum wall. The props inside were all working and the ride actually had a bit of a line.
That being said, this is really the equivalent of keeping a dying person on life support when the end is inevitable. The park is doing marginally better than it was last year, but it seems every step forward they take is foiled by another fire or some other news story.
I took a look at the park's history, and I got to thinking: is the park registered as a historical place? It is almost 120 years old. I have a carousel near where I live that is around the same age, and it is maintained by donations from local and national organizations and also private donors, and it is protected due to it being registered as a historical landmark. Rides on the carousel are a dollar or two. Barely anyone rides it. Postcards with pictures of the carousel are a dollar. Binghamton NY also has six carousels protected by historical landmark status, and I don't think they even charge at all for people to ride them. I'd imagine Conneaut would benefit from obtaining historical landmark protection from a financial and restoration viewpoint.
Of course, I have no idea how that works. I don't know if they'd have to apply for this or if it is independently determined by a state or national committee. I also don't know if being privately owned exempts them from this status. I don't know if the carousels I mentioned are owned by the cities they "live" in, if the state owns them, etc. I remember seeing that amusement park rescue show on Conneaut a year or two ago, and the owners and managers were absolutely adamant about not changing things or selling the park. If they had a choice in the matter, would they sell the park to the state or whatever governing body to save the park? I don't think they would. As we've all kinda noted at this point, they're almost obsessively attached to the idea of keeping their park.
I hate to see any park close, especially one of PA's many almost-didn't-know-it-existed parks (until recently, I had no idea PA had so many amusement parks, and I'm an enthusiast who has lived in PA for 31 years). However, even I rolled my eyes when I saw this thread pop up. Obviously, the park is in deplorable condition, and unless the owners are willing to do whatever it takes to save it (including selling it), I think it's time to give up the ghost.
I did some Googling and came across preservationpa.org, which says that process of becoming a designated historical property varies depending on the government body involved. The basic process involves someone, not necessarily the owner of the property nominating it for historical status. There will typically be a nomination form to be filled out and a public hearing.
Bankruptcy courts tend to give corporate debtors the benefit of the doubt. Can be frustrating to creditors. Delaware bankruptcy courts are an extreme example of that. Not sure where the Pennsylvania courts fall on the spectrum on that issue.
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