Conneaut Lake Park's Future a lot Brighter

The Future of the park now looks a lot brighter with this article:

Sutterlin, officials reach sales agreement

By Jane Smith

03/16/07 —
"CONNEAUT LAKE — An agreement has been reached to sell 3.3 acres of land at Conneaut Lake Park to Greg Sutterlin of Conneaut Lake for $1.7 million.

However, it’s is contingent upon several factors:

n Summit Township supervisors must amend a zoning ordinance to allow 10 units of condominiums be erected on the site, which includes the former Flynn House property and adjacent property.

n Court approval and that no appeals are filed.

n CLP officials must undertake all necessary steps to open the park for the 2007 season. If Sutterlin determines that isn’t happening, he can declare the agreement null and void.

n The gate-guard booth on Reed Avenue at the entrance to the park must be removed.

The agreement allows Sutterlin to construct three or more separate condominium buildings within the complex. Two will be located parallel to Conneaut Lake and the third will be positioned on the west side of Lake Street.

It prohibits the park from selling any other lakefront or lakeview land within the park for five years following completion of the sale.

It also prohibits the park from creating or constructing its own residential development on its lakefront or lakeview property.

However, that doesn’t apply to or affect any use or potential use, renovations, remodeling or occupancy of Hotel Conneaut to perpetuate its use as a hotel and restaurant, but not as a condominium or other residential development.

The agreement also includes the sale of the docks around the property as of Oct. 31, 2007. All dock fees and rental income for this year should be split between the park and Sutterlin with any adjustments after the closing.

The contract calls for a non-refundable downpayment of $5,000 and the remainder to be paid in cash upon completion of the sale.

The next step now is to petition Crawford County Court of Common Pleas for a hearing to approve the sale.

LeRoy Stearns, court-appointed overseer, has said he will use a portion of the sale proceeds to open the park this season.

He plans to use a majority of the money to pay off the estimated $2.3 million or more debt, including all real estate taxes on all properties owned by the park as well as bank loans."

Now It's just seeing if the park grts the rides up on time, and FINALLY, updating their website.

As indicated by the interest in the going-ons with this park, there is a lot of sentiment amont many of us for preserving CLP and other traditional parks. Some of us might be ready to throw in the towel, claiming that the park has too much competition but there is so much involving parks like this that is irreplaceable.

Blue Streak is of course the main reason for wanting to save the park but there is also that old time atmosphere that is shared with certain other parks such as Lakeside. It must be remembered, too that many of the older rides that are becoming rare are most likely to be found at parks of this type. CLP has one of the two remaining Tumble Bugs in the U. S. and one of the two remaining Pretzel gravity darkrides.

There used to be so many parrks of this type but most of them are now gone. Arnolds Park is a similar park that went through a very similar set of misadventures but was finally saved. Hopefully CLP will survive as well and continue to provide a type of amusement park experience that is not found at the bigger parks.

Arthur Bahl

That would be nice if they could fix it all up and have everything running for 2007, maybe snatch a cheap used flat of some sort from ITAL or something to advertise something new, then continue to grow slowly like that. Beech Bend has a bunch of cheaper flats but that combined with Kentucky Rumbler are helping them continually grow at a nice rate. Maybe CLP can use the same strategy for new rides. I guess we should worry about getting the ones they have working and what not before adding, but that could be a good way to go until they can get anything "big".

I'm glad it might have another chance, hopefully this will be the one that brings them out of that "we might not open next year" cycle and into something much more stable. *** Edited 3/19/2007 1:40:31 AM UTC by P18***

1EyedJack's avatar
I for one am looking forward to going back there this year.


CLP needs to replace its Ferris wheel which is having problems. I wouldn't be suprised if they don't have one this year. If they do have anything new this yer, it would be that Erieview darkride but given the problems that the park had this winter, they might not be able to get it ready right away.

A Scrambler might be the kind of ride P18 is talking about. They used to have an indoor one but the building collapsed.

Arthur Bahl

^Frightzone (I actually almost forgot about that) That would be great if they could get it up, but like you said, it's been a not-so-great winter.

I was thinking of the scrambler, since it's a shame they lost the indoor one. There are also plenty of used flats at Zamperla or Moser and such that could add alot to the park, in the future. I mentioned BB since they seemed to have grown alot using portable flat rides, enough to build a highly rated woody.

Let's not count our amusement parks before they're hatched. It sounds like a great deal, if it goes through, but it's important to remember that a lot of great deals get to this point, then hit some insurmountable snag, or else the financing simply never materializes.
I really wish they'd just get it over with and close Conneaut. It's getting old every year hearing that "the park may not open this season" due to the large amount of debt the park is carrying. I see this as a short term fix. The park will open, a few people will pass through, some of the "preservationists" will show up and say they did their part... but you can't keep a park open strictly based on sentimental reasons. As a wise man once said, "I don't see CLP as a viable business anymore". As much as I never thought I'd say it, I think I agree.

Ray P. (fan of Conneaut and small parks, but realizes he has to be realistic these days)

That's an idiotic thing to say. People obviously want to see the park opened, so if they're able to make it happen, what's the problem? Are the frequent "doom and gloom for Conneaut" articles that bothersome to you? As far as I can tell, it's pretty easy to ignore the Conneaut stuff and move on to the next topic about Maverick or Six Flags, if that's what you prefer to read about. And what "wise man" said that? The webmaster of a coaster enthusiast site? Sorry... smart as he may be, I wouldn't refer to what he said as words of wisdom.

How is this any different from when Six Flags sold the Astroworld land? Both Six Flags and Conneaut are in debt, and if they continue to operate in debt, they will eventually close forever. People defended Six Flags when they made their decision to sell one park for the greater good- why is it a bad idea how that Conneaut is selling land for their greater good? In my eyes, this is a brilliant idea. The sale of the land is going to enable the park to get out of debt and operate with a clean slate, meaning that any profit the park realizes from operations in 2007 won't have to be put towards paying for mistakes made by past ownership and management.

You're a fan of Conneaut, Ray? Wow. I'd hate to see what you'd have to say about a park you DON'T like.

I tried posting this in news last week, but it didn't take.

I would've thought they'd get more for than 1.7 million. don't get me wrong, I think it will help a great deal. I'm certain the people/companies they pay with that money will be happy.

Great Lakes Brewery Patron...


Since "none of this is ever personal", I figured I'd respond in a dignified manner.

It was an "Idiotic" thing to say? No... I'd say it was a rational thing to say. I've supported Conneaut Lake each year by visiting at least once. Each time I go, I am greeted by about 35-40 cars in the main parking lot. I rarely, if ever, have to wait in line for a ride. I stroll down the midways and see tree roots pushing up the asphalt. I keep wondering how much longer this place is going to last. It's sort of depressing walking around a park with very few people in it. And as we all know, you can't make a profit if the people aren't coming out to visit. To quote another wise man, "sometimes we have to stop thinking like enthusiasts". I bitched and moaned that Geauga Lake was removing X-Flight and Steel Venom and the main response I got was "It's a business decision, so shut up and get over it." I figured I should wake up and smell the coffee, so I am looking at things from a business perspective now.

Continuing on with your quotes, you're right, it IS pretty easy to skip over the gloom and doom articles. But is there a reason why you lumped me in with the SF/CF fanboys? Is there a reason why you just assumed that I would prefer to read about SF or CF? Voyage is my #1 roller coaster and that's at a smaller park. Knoebels and Indiana Beach are my two favorite amusement parks and they are both smaller parks. I find it amusing that you think I'd rather read about CF/SF because I made a negative observation about Conneaut. My statement was I think they should just close Conneaut already because every year it seems the park isn't going to open. And then somehow, something "miraculous" happens and we get one more year out of the venerable park. How many more "miracles" does this park have?

The wise man I originally quoted was either Lord Gonchar or Mamoosh. I know Gonch puts things into perspective... and that's simply what I was taking a stab at here.

So in closing, yes, I am a fan of Conneaut. I am a fan of amusement parks in general and have been for 35 years. If they can make a go of things with this newly-acquired cash, then more power to them. Market the place a little, get the picnic business back... and maybe with word of mouth, CLP will be a success again. But when you look at things from the ever-popular "business perspective", it hasn't looked good for Conneaut Lake for quite some time and I don't know if this is going to be the "heal-all" shot in the arm the park so sorely needs. It takes more than just some cash to be successful. Just ask Six Flags Worlds of Adventure...

Ray P.

rollergator's avatar
I'm still not certain Conneaut is going to be *allowed* to sell the land. An AWFUL lot hinges on the decision of whether to approve the sale, and that is NOT under the park's control.

Assuming the sale does go through, the park's debt laod will go down to the point where it could be *manageable*....the debt has been a real problem, because the interest only compunds every year. This would go a LONG way toward making the parking economically viable. Still won't be any huge profit-making enterprise, but not all businesses are geared that way (Conneaut among them). For the "labor of love crowd", sufficient is a more operative word than profitable....

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Sometimes we have to stop thinking like enthusiasts? Why is that?

There is a lot of amusement industry business talk on this site. At first I loathed it but now I'm okay with it- if someone chooses to express their enthusiasm by talking about the business side of things, I have no problem with that and have learned to see things from their point-of-view and engage in conversations with them. That said, I'm not going to let someone insinuate that I should "shut up and get over it". At the core of my enthusiasm is someone who loves old traditional parks with wood roller coasters and I'm not going to let someone else convince me that my enthusiasm is out-of-touch with reality or just plain unwarranted.

Let me clarify that I wasn't calling you an idiot, but I do feel that your statement was a pretty idiotic thing to come from someone that claims to be a Conneaut fan. Yes, it is true that we go through this same thing year after year, but instead of seeing it as a sign that the park is unsuccessful and is better off closing, maybe you should look at these "miracles" as signs that the park's time has not yet come and the passion of those that work to keep it open is inspiring? I watched Apollo 13 last night (first time in a long time)... the people that helped get those three men back to Earth faced problem after problem after problem. At times they probably thought that they should just give up because of so much working against them, but I'm sure the three astronauts admired their perseverence. Shouldn't Conneaut's perseverence be praised, the same way a dying man's will to fight be prased?

Conneaut has been weighed down by debt for years. The park is going to sell a few acres of land and suddenly find a way to erase all the debt, or at least a large part of it. Now they can operate and the money they make can be put back into the park. How is that NOT good news? Maybe this is something that will prevent Conneaut from bad news in future?

Just seems to me that if you are a Conneaut fan, this would be music to your ears. That's all.

I find it interesting that almost everything I enjoy the most are those things that are not viable businesses.

In fact, just last weekend, I toured a historic Frank Lloyd Wright house that was recently restored at a cost of 5.8 million! A good business decision would have been to tear it down and build a new McMansion on the site. It made no financial sense for a organization to form to buy the property, raise funds to restore it, and operate it as an attraction using mostly volunteer labor.

Or does it? It got me to visit an area I probably wouldnt have bothered with otherwise and pumped a few bucks into the local economy by buying gas and food.

Conneaut is not operated as a for-profit company, as far as I know. This land sale will go a long ways towards ridding them of past problems inherited by previous inept management.

This article is time for optimism rather than more "doom and gloom."

rollergator's avatar
LOL, maybe this will give SF the idea to sell their "unused land" to pay down THIER debt. Can you imagine SF selling ONLY land, no parks, and getting their debt down to around than a half-billion dollars?

Hehe, Conneaut and SF aren't in *that* different a set of circumstances, financially....just need to keep adding or subtracting three zeroes from all the dollar amounts... ;)

I like the plan. Sell extra land but not the park itself. Plus there's that thing about not building residential along the waterfront on park property, meaning there will be even less of a desire to redevelop the park's property.

How can anyone see this as bad news? Business-minded or not, if you think this is lousy stuff, you're clearly not a park enthusiast.


The park loses money every year. Even if they managed to pay off every cent of their debt with this land sale, they'll be back into the red after this operating season. The bottom line is that throwing money at the park is just delaying the inevitable. The park needs to find a way to increase attendance and make money, and that requires money that they'll never have.

What is so hard to understand about that? You are in denial. Face it, Conneaut is in the middle of nowhere, it's never going to be the resort it used to be, and it's not going to stay open forever.

The park loses money because it has to repay old debts. With profits going towards debts instead of back into the park, it's unable to do anything to improve its situation. What's so hard to understand about THAT?

And who's throwing money at the park? It wants to sell off land it owns to get itself into better shape. The only thing it can be accused of doing is throwing money at itself and I don't see anything wrong with that. It's their land, their money... they can do whatever the damn well please with it, as far as any of us are concerned.

I'm not in denial, I am a park enthusiast that doesn't want to see a park close, and now that there is some potential good news about the place, I'm starting to get a little optimistic. It's pretty astonishing how unpopular it is to be an enthusiast on this site... it's as if there's nothing to say unless it's about theme parks finding new ways to make more money. Why is it so popular to be down on small, struggling parks? Is it because some well-respected people around here are of the mindset that parks of that nature have no place in the current business climate? If so, it's sad to see such a bunch of empty-minded followers.

rollergator's avatar
If I remember correctly, CLP had a really solid year last year, and was able to pay all its bills, cover the interest on the debt, and even had a small amount left over...

Assuming that thedebt will be cut 75%, that leaves considerably more breathing room. Certainly there's no B&M or Intamin coasters going in, but given their situation, they might be able to start *saving up* for a splashy new flat or something...

^All said and done, they ended up a further 197,000 in the whole, most of which came from the Restaurant and Lounge at the Hotel.

Great Lakes Brewery Patron...


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