Judge rejects sale of Conneaut Lake Park property

Posted Monday, April 23, 2007 7:10 PM | Contributed by Lord Gonchar

A proposal to sell 3.3 acres of land at Conneaut Lake Park — with some of the funds to be used to open the amusement park this summer — has been rejected by Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Judge Anthony Vardaro.

Read more from The Meadville Tribune.

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Monday, April 23, 2007 9:41 PM
Please, someone put this park out of its misery.
Monday, April 23, 2007 10:12 PM
I have to agree, its blatantly obvious these people do not want it there anymore or else they wouldn't be rejecting anything that would possibly help the park therefore only dragging out it's probable future even longer and more painful.
Monday, April 23, 2007 10:39 PM
Jeff's avatar Yet another reason why it's destined to go away. If the locals and the local elected people don't want it, it's doomed.
Monday, April 23, 2007 11:14 PM
How does the one judge that made the decison represent the entire local population? As far as I know, a judge is appointed, not elected, meaning he/she doesn't necessarily represent the thoughts of the population.

A town has a public park. A developer wants to buy the public park and develop it with residental and retail units. The people in the town complain but a local judge approves the sale regardless. How did that judge represent the feelings of the local population?

Elected officials in NYC are pushing for redevelopment of Coney Island. When so many locals are complaining of those plans, how can it be said that those elected officials are representing the feelings of the locals?

Did it ever occur to any of you that are wanting Conneaut "put out of its misery" that the people most outspoken about this plan are the ones that have ulterior motives? I bet if you go to the area and talk to the locals, they're going to give you a whole different story... not the one that the Meadville Tribune has been pushing for years.

*** This post was edited by Rob Ascough 4/23/2007 11:16:31 PM ***

Monday, April 23, 2007 11:22 PM
I never said anything about the locals at all, maybe the local government. Also, I've never made the 9 hour drive out there so it's not like I really speak to the locals, the Meadville Tribune has been the only resource for the most part available. It still seems even if the story is off a bit that they keep struggling and struggling while getting shot down chances to be able to open with all of the rides running.
*** This post was edited by P18 4/23/2007 11:27:58 PM ***
Monday, April 23, 2007 11:54 PM
Would be interesting to hear what the "several reasons given" for denying the sale actually are. Somewhere on that list is probably that Judge Vardaro didn't get enough of a kickback, oops I mean campaign contribution.

In any event, they now have 3.3 acres of rezoned land that can't be sold or used for what the zoning actually allows. Only in Pennsylvania.
*** This post was edited by RatherGoodBear 4/23/2007 11:58:04 PM ***

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 12:13 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Did it ever occur to any of you that are wanting Conneaut "put out of its misery" that the people most outspoken about this plan are the ones that have ulterior motives? I bet if you go to the area and talk to the locals, they're going to give you a whole different story... not the one that the Meadville Tribune has been pushing for years.

Really? Really!?

You know we don't often agree, but I like to think we at least try to understand and/or respect where the other is coming from most of the time.

But a conspiracy to keep CLP down? That's really stretching.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 8:32 AM
Actually, the Meadville Tribune has been fairly pro-park in most of its editorials.

And there are many people who are very interested in the park but don't believe the land sale was the best *long term* solution. Without the sale, the park may not open this year, but it is far from the nail in the coffin.

I was supportive of the sale but my main interest is the health of the park. The land sale was one way towards that goal, but not the only way.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 8:57 AM
You're absolutely right, we do make every attempt to understand and respect where the other is coming from, and I think we succeed for the most part. In that case, let me rephrase what I said.

There may not be a conspiracy to keep Conneaut Lake Park down, but I think there might be something going on with the land itself... a lot like what is going on with Coney Island. The park has a lot of lakefront property in a less-than-wealthy area- now that interest in some land has been established, would it be unlike an appointed government official to hold back on the sale of, say, 3 acres when there is the potential to sell the entire thing to a developer? I don't think so. It's certainly likely here in NJ.

It just seems to me that the Meadville Tribune is very quick to jump on stories about Conneaut that outline the park's problems. Maybe they're just reporting the news, but going by the reaction here on this site (which I am viewing as a microcosm of an actual community and its opinions), what the Meadville Tribune seems to accomplish is nothing more than a certain level of animosity towards the park. I could be reading more into all of this (it's entirely possible), but it wouldn't be the first time local media had its own agenda.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 9:14 AM
I think it's time, to bulldoze this park under. It's sucking taxpayer money and still looses money. I can guarentee that if I owed the kind of back taxes this place owes, I would be living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass. Let's build a prison on the property.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 9:23 AM
Jeff's avatar I don't know about PA, but in Ohio, judges are in fact elected.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 9:47 AM
From the Erie Daily Times:

Vardaro cited seven reasons for rejecting the sale in his ruling. They included a lack of requirements regarding the type of condos that Sutterlin could build on the property, a lack of a timeframe for the project and the absence of a specific plan on how park overseers will use the money to pay their debtors. Vardaro also said in his ruling that, while the conditions of sale mandate that park officials make steps to open the park this year, the proceeds of the sale won't be available in time to do so.

The judge said he would not be interested in approving any sort of "bridge loan" to supply the funds until Sutterlin's offer is paid.

Vardaro additionally rejected the sale over language that would prohibit further park development for five years after the sale with Sutterlin was completed. The judge also wants more proof that the condo project fits in with an overall master plan for the park that the Economic Progress Alliance released earlier this year.

Sutterlin said he would take all of the steps necessary to satisfy Vardaro's concerns.


The judges in PA are elected.*** This post was edited by browntggrr 4/24/2007 9:52:49 AM ***

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 11:33 AM
This just in:


Park won't open without gift of 300,000.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 12:02 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

In that case, let me rephrase what I said.

Gotcha. :)

Park won't open without gift of 300,000.

Well, this is a chance to see how much the community wants the park to open, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 1:30 PM
Sure it's ok for these little parks to expect gifts, but if ever a SF were to announce they needed a "gift" to open its gates, could you imagine the amount of fire they would get? Also, will ALL the rides be open? Again, sure it's ok they open with 3 rides down, they're a "little park struggling to get by", but a SF park in debt as well opens with a couple rides down, it's automatically a terrible day and the typical SF style bashing. Hey, I'm guilty of that too, but why are we making exceptions for a park just because it's old and smaller for stuff we'd be furious at with bigger parks? I would hate to be living by such an unprofitable business with taxes to make up for it then expected to hand over "gifts" just so they can open yet again for another painful year under a local government that obviously does not care. It's sad to loose a park, but how much more do you think the locals can fork over if real opportunities to make money (selling of land) are always shot down?

*** This post was edited by P18 4/24/2007 1:32:03 PM ***

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 1:38 PM
There is a huge difference. You're talking about the local Main Street grocer vs. Wal-Mart.

The local grocer's parents knew your parents. He sponsors the town's lttle league team and buys candy bars from your kids when they're fund-raising for school. As for Wal-Mart, they move in and obliterate the town. It's the little guy vs. the big guy, so right away comparing Conneaut Lake to Six Flags isn't really going to hold much water.

But if you want to go this route, let's look at the following.

Conneaut has a ride closed, but you paid next to nothing to get into the park and can probably buy a complete meal for the price you'd pay for a bottle of Pepsi at Six Flags. You're also going to wait in lines that are usually less than 10 minutes... if that. Six Flags charges you so much that you have no reason to expect anything less than perfection. If you pay $65 to get into the gate, not to mention $15 to park, why should you put up with horrible operations? At least with Conneaut, it can be argued that you get what you pay for.

Getting back to the gift... two people show up at your door. One wants money to rebuild the local church that lost its roof to a fire. The other wants money to help McDonalds repaint their building near the highway offramp. Who has more of a right to ask for money? Who stands a better chance of getting the money?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 1:52 PM
It would be great to have someone step up and help the park out, but with all the problems that the park has, especially back taxes, you are going to need many people to help out, or a quick fix like selling some land (and that might not even do it). I really can't see anyone giving the park money to open for just this one year. The local area really does not have THAT much money.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 1:53 PM
Furthermore, Conneaut has free admission. You can walk in, see the rides that are down, and choose to skip the POP pass and go the ticket route instead.

And the park is a charitable community trust. I don't think the land can be sold for development. IF it is decided that amusements won't work, I would expect the property to become some sort of public park or event space.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 1:57 PM
People in Arnolds Park, Iowa raised 7 million to save their park in a matter of weeks. I don't think many people around there are naturally wealthy.

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