PA attorney general files petition to block sheriff sale of Conneaut Lake

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The state Attorney General's Office is asking the court to stop the scheduled sheriff sale of Conneaut Lake Park. A petition filed Wednesday in Crawford County Common Pleas Court said the park is a charitable trust set aside for public use and as such cannot be sold at sheriff sale.

Read more from The Erie Times-News.

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Jeff's avatar

This does beg the question about why the park was taxed in the first place if it was in fact a public trust. I don't see the local taxing districts rolling over on this. A million dollars is a lot of money to them.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

How old is the tax bill? Is it from before the park became a public trust?

I saw that show where they were trying to "rescue" Conneaut Lake Park. Honestly is there $1M worth of assets if sold at auction? Who owns the land? That's all that really looks to be worth anything...

But then again, what do I know?

The million dollars owed from what I understand includes interest and penalties and that means the tax bill was likely half that amount. Also, if I've followed this story correctly some of the tax due is from a long ways back. I would like to see a compromise of some sort reached or even better have the state wipe the slate if it should've been tax exempt. In the past few years the operators of the park and hotel are making some progress in turning things around. It's small steps, but it's the right direction.

Clearly, the current park operator is seeing some success since they've been consistently opening the park for several years now and making small investments in the equipment and infrastructure. If they can get rid of the tax bill entirely or significantly reduce it then I think the current operators would invest more in their businesses. The local economy and government stands to gain more if they can revive the park and tourism in the area.

Last edited by egieszl,
Tommytheduck's avatar

They may have to hire a few more firefighters.

I hate to see a park close, I really do, but this thing is getting out of hand. Does anyone even care any more? We live only 2 hours away, but don't even want to bother coming out for one last visit. From what I understand, the Blue Streak is about one swift kick away from falling over, and half the rides don't even operate.

Last edited by Tommytheduck,
birdhombre's avatar

From what I've read, some of the tax and debt goes all the way back to this dude. (Srsly, that headline tho.)

Leopards, spots, etc.

I was there earlier this year, and while the place was a disaster area, it was possible to see what the park had been and potentially could be again.

If the park was still losing money I would say that it should be closed. However, as I understand it the park is now profitable in a small way. On that basis, wouldn't it make more sense to let the new owners pay off the back taxes in instalments rather than selling out the land from under them?

For what it's worth, I only learned recently just how long this has been going on. The following appeared in the January 1993 issue of Inside Track:

The 55-year-old Blue Streak roller coaster may operate for the 1993 season after all. Conneaut Lake Park president Charles Flynn had stated that the historic coaster wouldn't run this year due to high maintenance and liability insurance costs. Following that announcement and an auction of some of the park's rides and equipment, five investors have stated that they would like to buy the park and operate the coaster (and other attractions) as usual. Final negotiations are expected to be completed sometime next month.

Twenty-one years later, the story continues.

slithernoggin's avatar

I don't like the idea of an amusement park closing, more so one with a long history. And I respect the valiant efforts over the years to turn the park around.

But I think it's long past time to say, enough. This park can't be saved.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

slithernoggin said:

But I think it's long past time to say, enough. This park can't be saved.

Again, I'd agree with you if the park was still haemorrhaging money.

However, if it is now profitable, why can't it be saved?

If the cloud hanging over the park can be lifted then I rather suspect the current owners will invest some real money into the place – and that in turn might bring the punters back in.

Just a thought.

slithernoggin's avatar

The key word there is "if".

I'm not sure that being profitable in a "small way" is enough. The park would need to be bringing in enough money to meet not only its regular business expenses, but its other obligations.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Even if the park is a public trust that is tax exempt .They collected admission tax and did not turn over to government.If they find they do not owe this some lawyer will file a class action for those who were charged tax they should not have collected. This park is done all this is doing is making a bigger payday for some lawyers.

Jeff's avatar

This argument over the years reminds me of people who are in bad relationships. Year after year, they keep saying they're going to hang in there a little longer because they know the other person can change and be what they want them to be.

I think you know how that usually goes.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Tommytheduck's avatar

The Blue Streak is going to fall down some stairs?

When I visited Conneaut about ten years ago, you could still see some potential there. Most of the midway buildings were still standing, there was a small but decent set of operating rides, the Blue Streak was rickety but not looking hopeless. I could imagine with some love (and cash) it could be a small but viable place, particularly if they built up a little water park near the lake.

I was back this year, in August, and - I just didn't see much that I thought was worth saving. There's a fine carousel with a proper band organ (although with one seriously out of tune horn). The tumble bug wasn't operating. The other operating rides looked decrepit, and a bunch of non operating rides, or parts of rides, were still sitting there (including what appeared to be the stairs and hub of a round-up, although it was a little hard to tell).

The Blue Streak was operating, but half way up the lift hill we decided it was going to be our only ride, no matter which way it turned out. I'll grant that I'm not really a judge of these things, but it's amazing to me that an inspector would allow it to operate. The ride has a really good layout, in a sweet location in the woods, with classic trains, but it basically looks as if the entire thing needs to be rebuilt.

And: it's an hour from Waldameer, and maybe two hours from Kennywood, and maybe three hours from Cedar Point. Without a massive investment, it's hard to see how it attracts anyone instead of those places. Granted, the lake has a little resort community around it, but big enough to support even a small park (let alone one needing as much care as Conneaut does?)

It pains me to say it, but I just don't see a scenario where keeping the place running makes any sense.

Last edited by hambone,
Jeff's avatar

Well they're not using the parts anyway...

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

The parts that were stolen were off of the Toboggan ride that was sitting in the back of the park on a trailer.

I love when the posted article is exactly what is said in the video, verbatim. Nothing extra to be gained by watching the video over reading the article; no images of what was stolen, where it was stolen from, etc. just the anchor reading his teleprompter and an image of the suspect...

Last edited by ShaneDenmark,

But then again, what do I know?

ffej said:

The parts that were stolen were off of the Toboggan ride that was sitting in the back of the park on a trailer.

As I understand it the Toboggan is beyond repair. It was totalled one night during regular operation when the roof of a car wasn't secured properly, causing it to open inside the tower.

...and since we're on the subject, I've just posted some photos from the park taken across two visits in 2012 and 2014.

Last edited by Richard Bannister,

I've never been there. I remember seeing TV commercials for the park in the 80's and telling my parents it looks like fun we should go and having the idea dismissed quite quickly. As an adult looking at the pictures I understand how disappointed I would have been if they had taken me there.

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