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No joy for Joyland... for now..

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The operators of Joyland Amusement Park plan to keep the gates padlocked this year, and they are blaming the city of Wichita.


Unless the park opens for business, says Robert Barnard, Joyland's chief operating officer, vendors holding unpaid invoices won't get paid.


"It's a snowball effect. It all comes down to the city. I've been saying that all (last) summer and all last year," Barnard says. "People didn't want to believe it. Hey, I'd love to pay you, but you have to get the city off our back first."


City officials say Joyland's operators simply need to follow the same procedures that apply to other businesses.


"The city is not trying to stop them from operating as an amusement park," says Gary Rebenstorf, the city attorney. "We're just saying if you're going to operate, then you need to comply with all of the requirements."


Joyland's application for an amusement park permit effective May 1 was filed in January without attaching new proof of insurance. City legal staff wants that proof, says Sharon Dickgrafe, assistant city attorney, because last summer Joyland's insurance company threatened to cancel its policy for nonpayment.


"I don't think it was actually ever canceled, but we repeatedly, throughout the summer, would get notification that it would be canceled within three days," Dickgrafe says. "It never quite got there, but there was a lot of last-minute shuffling on their part."


The park needs to submit a new set of ride inspections before the permit can be issued.


Then there's the injunction the city won after Joyland's neighbors complained about the noise from the park's after-hours parties that would run until 3 a.m. The injunction bans live bands from performing in the park at any time.


"It doesn't apply to the organ, doesn't apply to the music that might go with a ride, those type of things," Rebenstorf says. "They were trying to operate as a dance hall or a bar, basically."

Barnard says the city has proof of insurance attached to Joyland's current permit and there's no need to get another certificate for the new permit application. He claims the city has overstepped its bounds in trying to limit what kind of entertainment can take place at Joyland.


"We're basically a glorified carnival and what good is that?" Barnard says. "We can go rent a place at the mall, go into the parking lot and throw up a few rides and call it Joyland."

$40 Million Plan


Barnard and partner Michael Moodenbaugh arrived in 2005 with a $40 million renovation plan that included a 350- to 400-room hotel and 10-acre water park.


The partners made repairs to Joyland's buildings and 24 rides, but an inspector refused to allow the park's wooden roller coaster back into operation. Joyland operated on a weekend-only schedule last year.


By the end of the season, several vendors had filed bill-collection lawsuits for thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices. Other vendors have turned bills over to collectors, but have not filed legal action.


The partners admit they owe more than $150,000 and are promising to pay the bills when they get the park reopened.


In the meantime, Barnard and Moodenbaugh continue to negotiate with park owners Stan and Margaret Nelson to buy the 43-acre property. The partners hope to get the land rezoned for commercial and multifamily use, hoping that will give investors enough confidence to fund the park's renovation.


Stan Nelson confirmed that negotiations are continuing, but declined to elaborate.


Barnard says he and his partner still want to buy and renovate Joyland, even if they can't open it this year.

More bad news. Although the time spent closed will be for renovation...

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Sad, but read the last line - "Barnard says he and his partner still want to buy and renovate Joyland, even if they can't open it this year."


That means there's hope yet. We just have to hope the community wakes up to how the government is hurting them and honest, private businesses like Joyland.

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