Conneaut Lake Park's Future a lot Brighter

Monday, March 19, 2007 1:24 PM
With the park making payments on debts worth a million or two, it stands to reason that if they didn't have to make payments on those debts, they would have turned a tidy profit. As gator said, it might mean a new flat or two, and that kind of incremental improvement might make the future for the park that much brighter.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 1:43 PM
I would suggest that the naysayers in here contact Mr. Sutterlin and tell him what a bad business decision he's making buying the land. 10 units per care on 3 acres means 33 units. So there must be some interest in the area. But I'm sure as a local developer he has no clue what he's doing.

One other thing people have failed to mention is the condition that the park make every attempt to open this season. With all the activity going on, and with the continued media coverage, the "I didn't know the park was even open" excuse will evaporate. People will know there's still a park there and that alone should help with attendance.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 1:49 PM
True. And it's not like Conneaut is exactly dying. The Tempest was recently refurbished, the Bug was reopened last year, the old Vettel train was installed on the Blue Streak a few years back... the way some of you sound, it's as if the park has done absolutely nothing to improve itself in recent years. Considering all the work that does take place, why should they just give up and close?
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Monday, March 19, 2007 1:51 PM
My only fear is the residents of these new condos complaining about noise from the park and trying to get some sort of regulation in place that will further cripple the park.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 2:00 PM
Yeah, that is something to worry about. Then again, people stay in the hotel with no problem.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 2:10 PM
And there are a ton of houses outside and *inside* the park!

I just hope the condo people make it clear that they are located next to an operating amusement park so some idiot won't buy one and then suddenly complain about what was already there first.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 3:05 PM

Rob Ascough said:
And it's not like Conneaut is exactly dying. The Tempest was recently refurbished, the Bug was reopened last year, the old Vettel train was installed on the Blue Streak a few years back...

Exactly. Last season, virtually every ride was open most of the time. The place looked and felt much more vibrant than in 2005, certainly, and I would guess for a good many years before then.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 3:08 PM
Oh, and the train was restored last year, too. Funded in part by the successful buy-a-brick program.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 3:44 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

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.

I don't even have to do the dirty work anymore! The evil is simply evoked with my name at this point. ;)

Walk strong my minions of the night!

(said with a wink and a smile :) )

On topic, I think this will be an interesting look as to how much everybody directly involved really wants the park to stay. There's an awful lot of 'outs' stipulated in that agreement.

Wasn't the condo limit the reason the land didn't sell over the winter? Is there good reason to think the zoning ordinance will be amended? (honest question to those who know)

*** Edited 3/19/2007 7:45:30 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***


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Monday, March 19, 2007 3:55 PM
The park looked good when I was there. Sure there were a few rough edges but the fun was back. Now the next steps are to get the Erieview darkride up and running and to do something about that Ferris wheel.

Arthur Bahl

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Monday, March 19, 2007 4:37 PM
The tempest most likely wont run next year I hear.

It was damaged last year during the Pumpkinfest. While the guy was testing it in the morning, he didn't shut off the breaks, and the ride supn and ripped the breaks right off. It will be very costly to fix it.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 4:41 PM
Sad. I loved that ride and it's family friendly as well.

Arthur Bahl

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Monday, March 19, 2007 5:05 PM
There are a few things I would love to tell the owners of this park. These are things that I have learned from running my own business, and from being a visitor to their park. They have improved a lot, but these are the things I would also look at in addition to keeping the finances straight (and not buying too much food at once!!! How much money was lost there???)

First, a little paint goes a long ways. It can really improve the look of a park and it's rides cheaply. It is by far the most economical improvement you can make.

Second, customer service. Their employessa are very friendly, that isn't the problem at all. I came to the park early one morning to wait for it to open and for the weather to clear up. We paid for parking and waited in the car for opening time. When we walked up to the entrance the park was closed due to weather. The skies had cleared up already, but the powers that be suggested they close the park. So we got our parking money back and left. The drive home was clear, so no more bad weather was on the way there.

Now... I understand that sometimes keeping the park open on a rainy day would cause you to spend more in employee wages and electricity vs how many guests are in the park, etc. But on this day they were turning away a lot of people besides us who were just as confused. The weather was perfectly fine by the time the park opened! It's discouraging because I spent $75 to spend the night at a hotel in Erie so I could visit the park the next day, then I just had to drive home. I could have saved my money if I would have known the park wasn't going to open due to early morning sprinkles. I didn't plan a return trip because I didn't want to get there and the park be shut down again. Fuel is expensive now! I can't afford to drive there more then once a year!

Third, the restrooms. You have to admit, they need help. Especially the ones by the ballroom. I feel like I have to barf when I go in there! Just a small upgrade in this department can make families feel more comfortable. If I had a kid, I wouldn't want to change my babies diaper in a bathroom that smells strongly of stale urine. You don't have to install the latest and greatest handblowers and sinks, but make sure that the older equipment all works and is CLEAN. The colisuum in my town where they hold sporting events still uses the old two handle faucets that seperate the hot and cold water (can't use them both at once!) but they are clean and looked after. The same goes for the sidewalks outside, while they are cracked and broken, a little weed picking and even a few flowers would lighten up the atmosphere. The old Conneaut postcards showed a BEAUTIFUL park! I wish it still looked like that! The flowers and the colors were wonderful!

The hotel would be a hard sell for them, but I think moderizing can be done descretely. It would help to have heat and air to get people to stay all season, but I know they are against this. Now I love the no TV and radios, etc. That's what really gives it the charm. I never want to see a modern appliance in those rooms! Hidden heat and air, but nothing else.

I would love to be able to help run this park. I have always wanted to help them out finacially, getting them to buy the things they need at good prices and not wasting money in places they don't need to. But that's probably impossible, as they have others appointed to the task. All I can do is sit back and hope they know what they are doing and really care about the park enough to not pocket money themselves.

Most businesses can make money if run correctly. It looks like if they get that debt paid off they should get back on track if the finances are watched closely. Hopefully someone there reads this and listens, because this park can be outstanding with it's history and location!


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Monday, March 19, 2007 6:36 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

Wasn't the condo limit the reason the land didn't sell over the winter? Is there good reason to think the zoning ordinance will be amended? (honest question to those who know)


I'm not exactly sure what the reason was, but it did have something to do with "residential density." X number of condos/units per Y number of acres. What the exact numbers were I can't recal. It was mentioned in one of the podcasts.


854 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
http://www.rollercoasterfreak.com My YouTube

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Monday, March 19, 2007 6:43 PM
The main thing they have to do is get that restaurant management under control. It's unconscionable for a place like that to be losing that much money, especially given the perilous circumstances of the whole park. They need to cut hours, get better supervisors in there, get better deals with vendors and wholesalers, whatever it takes to get it at least much closer to breaking even.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 7:13 PM

ProgRay said:
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)


I see what your saying, But I never wish a park WOULD JUST CLOSE UP!

Conneaut is a Gem. It's been cleaned up in the past couple years and If they'd expand the waterpark a bit, I think it would fly on it's own.

Chuck, Who respects Rays Views and Agrees with the year after year saga thing, but don't want the park to close.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 8:03 PM
In my acquaintances with the "backstage" side of CLP over the last several years, I have found some of the problems there. The most glaring is that management skills are sadly lacking. Although he tries really hard, George Deshner is not an amusement park manager. On some levels, he micromanages, attempting to control minute spending for miscellaneous parts, while ignoring the larger things going on around him. He spends way too much time washing dishes in the kitchen at the hotel (no, I'm not kidding), or riding around in an expensive new cart. He's not really in touch with the needs of an amusement park. When told by the former operations manager that they had put $20K into repairs on the Blue Streak, his comment was "Great! Then we're good for five years or so, right?" Somewhere in there is where he alienated a large number of the maintenance department...Many of whom have left to find other jobs...

What the place really needs, aside from an infusion of money, is a new, skilled management team. A team that knows at least some of the ins and outs of amusement parks. People who understand the command structure needed to do the job and how to apply it.

Conneaut Lake will never be a huge moneymaker, but that doesn't mean it's not a viable operation. It's the ultimate resort--a classic park with a wood coaster, tumble bug, and carrousel, a ballroom, and a grand old hotel, located on the largest natural lake in PA. A little management, a little money, and some good marketing (also needs money) goes a long way.

Don't give up yet....

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 5:14 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Update

"Plans by Conneaut Lake Park officials to sell a chunk of park property for funds needed to open this season aren't sitting well with some who benefit from the park's existence.

A group of people who own businesses around the 115-year-old amusement park are against the sale of 3.3 acres to developer Gregory E. Sutterlin, business owner Wanda Ramaley said."

But an agreement has been signed, the court just has to approve the stipulations. No date has been set to review.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 5:30 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar That link takes me to a page that is asking me to register.

Why are the businesses are against the development? I would think that more people living there would be Good for business. Do they want the park to close?


854 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
http://www.rollercoasterfreak.com My YouTube

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 5:39 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Bug Me Not is your friend. :)
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