CONNEAUT LAKE PARK
Park News - (8/6/15) A Judge is set to hold a hearing on Sept. 1st to go over the “exit plan” for Conneaut Lake’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing. As you may recall, the park filed for Chapter 11 protection last year to avoid being sold off at a sheriff’s sale. The new plan would see the park’s almost $1 million property tax debt paid off within the first year, but is asking for up to 20-years to pay off (or only pay part) of another combined $2.9 million in debts owed to various creditors.
The creditors have until Aug. 25th to file their own complaints and comments on the plan, and I’m sure there will be plenty of those as a 3-5 year repayment plan is more common than 20 years. The immediate plan to begin paying off tax and other debts, if approved, is to raise between $900k to $1.3 million by selling off 330 linear feet of valuable lakefront property not needed by the park, combined with over $600k in insurance funds collected from the ballroom fire a couple of years ago.
(6/19/15) In case anyone was wondering about the safety of the rides at Conneaut Lake, you will be happy to know that the park, while having money problems, has not skimped on the ride maintenance. Independent inspectors toured the park and were amazed at the good condition on the rides, and were "complimentary of the maintenance". While some may not look pretty and could use some new paint, they are very safe. Only two rides are down and in need of finishing work before they can reopen, the Flying Scooters and the Train.
(6/15/15) While the financial status and future of Conneaut Lake Park isn't really known at this time, I'm glad to report that the park is indeed open and the rides are running, including the classic Blue Streak wooden coaster. You can see a nice photo report posted to CoasterTalkNoBSZone this week.
(4/23/15) According to the local news Conneaut Lake Park says they need $300,000 to properly prepare the park to open for the season on May 22nd, but if they are unable to find the funding they do have a loan for half that amount that will get the park reopened regardless. Much of the extra money they need will be used to perform needed maintenance on the park's rides needed to get them ready to reopen, including the rebuilding of a tunnel on Blue Streak.
(4/9/15) The Trustees in charge of Conneaut Lake Park now say that they need more time (until June 30th) to come up with their bankruptcy reorganization plan, due to complications over disputes with the management of Hotel Conneaut. Originally, the Trustees were to have the plan of action completed by April 3rd. If the court approves the extension, the new plan will give the creditors until the end of August to accept to reject the plan.
(1/7/15) According to this article, Conneaut Lake Park began the Chapter 11 bankruptcy court process on Tuesday, getting the initial hearing before the US Bankruptcy Court of Western Pennsylvania.
(12/17/14) New details regarding the “for sale” notice of certain rides from Conneaut Lake Park can be found back in this news article from September 30th where it mentions four rides were leaking the park, two of which were inoperable: the Toboggan, Music Express, Witch’s Stew and Kiddieland Carousel. These four rides are actually the property of one of the park’s major creditors, who had purchased them and leased them to the park to run. The park has defaulted on the payment agreement for them and they are being repossed by the owner, and now put up for sale.
(12/16/14) While the future isn’t looking too bright for Conneaut Lake Park, eagle-eyed readers have noticed a couple of the park rides are now showing up as being for sale on UsedRides.com like the Music Express and Witch’s Stew.
(12/11/14) Conneaut Lake is hanging on by a thread at this point, as a Judge ruled last week to go ahead with the Sherriff’s sale of the park on Friday, only to have the Sheriff’s office delay the sale until Feb. 6th, following the trustees going ahead with the filing of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Now a reorganization plan to get the park back on track is due by April 3rd.
(11/25/14) The latest update on Conneaut Lake Park is that a judge has agreed to hear arguments from the state attorney general’s office to stop the planned Sheriff’s sale to recoop the over $900,000 in back taxes owed. So far the delay is only granted until December 5th however, while they ponder the argument that the park may be considered a “tax-exempt charitable trust”. Meanwhile there is the Trustees plan to go ahead with the Chapter 11 filing and reorganization as well waiting in the wings.
(11/24/14) The latest on Conneaut Lake is that the park is planning to take the case to court to be granted tax-exempt status to get away from the pending Sheriff’s sale over $900,000 owed in back-taxes that has been suffocating the property. According to some local experts, the park isn't likely to meet the qualifications needed for the retroactive tax-exempt status.
(10/22/14) The proposed Sheriff's Sale of Conneaut Lake Park has been postponed until at least December. It seems there may be some kind of miscalculation regarding how much tax the park owes, due to the park being held within a 'charitable trust'.
(9/5/14) The local news reports that the trustees of Conneaut Lake Park have now hired a bankruptcy attorney to press forward with a Chapter 11 filing in order to prevent the Sheriff’s sale of the park to pay off the tax debt.
(8/11/14) According to the latest update from the local news, Conneaut Lake has one last ditch plan to try and save itself from the auction block, by filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy that would stop the sale and immediately freeze all the park’s assets.
(8/8/14) Looks like you can finally stick a fork in Conneaut Lake. According to the local news the commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to begin the proceedings of a sheriff’s sale of the amusement park to pay off the nearly $1 million tax debt. The sale could happen as early as this October.
(6/24/14) Conneaut Lake Park isn’t dead yet! According to this article the local court approved a settlement plan between the state Attorney and park trustees that will dismiss the current group of trustees and introduce a new governing board to address the park’s financial issues as well as plans for a quick clean-up effort to ready the park for summer guests.
(4/22/14) According to the county commissioners, the only thing that will stop the sale of Conneaut Lake at auction this September is if they can establish a firm repayment plan to get caught up on their back taxes over the next five years. No matter if the park can still be saved or not, the primary focus needs to be getting caught up on their taxes, otherwise the property will be sold off to the highest bidder.
(4/4/14) The Exec. Director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County has approached the local County Commissioners with an alternative proposal for Conneaut Lake Park, rather than sell the park off at a tax auction. They claim that there is much potential for a positive economic benefit by placing the park under their control to reorganize it as if it were a bankrupt corporation, keeping the park and grounds as a public asset rather than allow it to fall under private ownership in the auction process. They would rather see the park property be dedicated to the public as an open park area, but with a retail-based midway area for attractions, a performing arts center and other activities year-round.
(3/18/14) From what I’ve heard, Conneaut Lake Park is still planning on opening for the 2014 season on May 24th. The auction to sell off the property in order to pay off the unpaid property tax debt will not take place until September. This may be your last chance to ride the Blue Streak… which apparently replaced 150 feet of track over the off-season.
(2/10/14) Bad news for Conneaut Lake Park as the local Crawford County officials are now moving forward with a plan to sell Conneaut Lake Park at the county tax claim sale on September 26, 2014. They have opted to move ahead with a sale of the park’s various land parcels and park property after the current board of trustees has failed to find a way to pay off a back property tax bill of over $850,000.
What the article does not seem to mention is if Conneaut Lake Park will be allowed to open one more time for the 2014 season or not ahead of the sale. If they are committed to seeing the park site and assets sold off, I’ve got a feeling they may not allow the park to open at all.
(1/27/14) The latest update on the status of Conneaut Lake can be found in a report at YourErie. The park trustees have sent off all documents asked for by the Attorney General’s office last month and has yet to hear anything back. In the meantime, they Board of Trustees is apparently seeking out those who support what they’ve been able to do over the past few years. Give it a read.
(12/4/13) Conneaut Lake’s Trustees have been ordered to turn over all copies of the park’s financial records to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office for review.
(10/31/13) The local news reports that two women suffered facial injuries while riding the Blue Streak on Saturday night. They believe they were riding with their heads down and may have struck the lapbar. The article also mentions that the state Attorney General is suing to remove the charitable trust running the park, believing that the trustees are not doing what they should to ensure that the park has a future.
(8/26/13) Conneaut Lake Park is looking for volunteers to help and I’ve been asked to spread the word. A call to action for everyone! Ron Schaub is organizing more volunteer efforts to help out Conneaut, including some great painting projects. The park needs all of the help it can get. The tremendous strides the park has made since the efforts began are truly spectacular, but more help is needed. Contact Ron Schaub through his website and see when he needs help. It is lots of fun helping to restore the park and the improvements are really spectacular. Go and lend a day or as much time as you can to give a hand to the park!
(8/6/13) Finally some good news for Conneaut Lake Park… the opening of a new attraction. Yes, the park has opened a haunted walk-through attraction called Haunted Hostel, just unveiled on the midway the other evening as part of a video shoot for a new Travel Channel program.
(8/2/13) Another year… another fire at Conneaut Lake, or at least that’s what it is starting to seem like. The poor park has been hit by arsonists so many times in the past, it just isn’t funny. While the cause has not been announced, a horrible fire broke out at Conneaut Lake and burnt down the banquet hall and beach club. The only good news is that the amusement park and the Hotel Conneaut were undamaged by the blaze.
The park did take a hit however, as I’m told that certain items stored in the basement of Beach Club were lost, including a Blue Streak train, 24 wooden fascination games and a scale model train set.
(7/7/13) Reports from a Facebook trip report say that the Tumblebug at Conneaut Lake is back running once again and is reported to be running very fast and with airtime as well. They also report that rehabs to the Blue Streak have fixed a couple of ‘problem spots’ at the bottom of the drops and the turnaround, and it is now “running fantastic”.
(5/27/13) Plans are now being put into motion to have Conneaut Lake Park sold to pay off over $877,000 in overdue property taxes. Due to a number of issues however, the sale wont actually take place until at least September 2014. If you’ve been thinking of visiting the park one of these years, you might want to think about visiting sooner than later, as there is no way to know what the future will hold for the site.
(2/28/13) In response to the concerns being expressed about the future of Conneaut Lake Park the family behind the ride, midway and concessions operations at the park has shared their own thoughts on what is going on. Click here to read more.
(2/25/13) A local developer (Greg Sutterlin) who co-manages the Hotel Conneaut and Beach Club has posted an interesting letter on their Facebook page calling out that a change is needed at Conneaut Lake Park. While the Hotel and Beach Club are in the middle of large multi-year re-investment and restoration projects and bringing these businesses back to life, the same can not be said for the Conneaut Lake amusement park.
“The Park is lined with abandoned buildings, Fire Damaged structures, root lined walkways, and is truly a depressing experience.” “The lack of a plan for the Park area is showing sorely as buildings are literally rotting and falling to the ground, tree roots grow through the midway and there is no interest or plan by this Board to make improvements and attract new business to the area.” The letter goes on to mention many specific improvement ideas pitched to the park that were all rejected by the board of trustees running the show at the park, which are also now the reason the park faces the threat of liquidation for unpaid taxes. They say that the current board isn’t getting the job done, has no plan to improve or grow the park’s attendance and they want to see that the park and rides stay. To do that, they feel that the entire board should be replaced by new members. Give the entire two-page letter a read here.
According to a response by one of the Trustees, they feel these are “bullying tactics” because Sutterlin “wants to get rid of us and run the park himself.” That said… if Sutterlin’s group has managed to turn the Hotel and Beach Club around, maybe they should be given a chance to see what they can do with the park as well.
(2/13/13) The local news reports that the Conneaut Lake Park trustees is currently negotiating with the County over the payment of over $800,000 in back taxes. Meeting have been taking place, but no details have been given yet.
(1/18/13) Conneaut Lake’s troubles are far from over as the county officials are now threatening to force a public sale of the park if the park Trustees can’t come up with a plan to pay off the park’s $850,000 tax bill in full. To date they have only been paying $1,000 a month towards the tax bill, which has only seen it still grow because of the costly late penalties and interest added back on each month.
(9/4/12) Finally some good news once again from Conneaut Lake Park, as the local news reports that the park will extend the season this year and stay open on weekends through to the end of September. The park will also extend the operational days in 2013 up to five days a week, expecting to remain open Thursdays through to Mondays if all goes well.
(6/25/12) So far four suspicious fires have been started very close to Conneat Lake Park within the last three weeks. You can read the official news report about it here.
(6/18/12) A local area source tells me that another odd fire broke out near Conneaut Lake Park over the weekend. According to the e-mail two old cottages burned down very early Saturday morning. The first was owned by the park and involved in a lawsuit where a former employee of the park claimed that the structure was promised to be handed over to them. The second cottage was located next door but was privately owned.
(4/30/12) Conneaut Lake’s troubles are far from over it seems, as the park is now being sued by the former Rides Manager who is in dispute with the Board of Trustees overseeing the park. There is also a conflict between the operator of the Hotel & Beach Club and the Trustees over how they have been collecting parking fees in order to pay for much needed road repairs that have yet to happen.