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Conneaut Lake Park (CLP) Discussion Thread

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This year went like the last several. Have a new guy or guys run the show, pay them to run it, and when it doesn't fly, find someone else in the buddy network to do it.


thanks for reporting on this, Kid.

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As much as I hate to see a park close, this is one that just seems like it needs to die. From all the reports I've heard, the park is pretty janky, and when you're surviving year to year like this all while you still owe a crap ton of money, it just seems like the park needs put to sleep. Nobody is going to come and invest the millions of dollars needed to revive this park into something profitable.

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As much as I hate to see a park close, this is one that just seems like it needs to die.


Hmm, I hear people say this all the time. It deserves to die because it's in bad shape right now? Imagine how that would work if applied to humans. I think the place can be re-built to it's former glory, all it needs is a real park manager with brains enough to bring people back and balls large enough to enable him to come to meetings that are about his park.

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"taer it down"


All seriousness though, this is worse than West View. I think it's time to just let this one go with what little grace it has left. This park hasn't done anything significant in years. Are they just going to wait until the management gets so bad, that someone dies in an accident? They're better off selling the assets to rescue/relocate the rides, than to rescue the park. The only thing that would save this park is a multi-million dollar investment AFTER a corporate purchase, and that's not going to happen.

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As much as I hate to see a park close, this is one that just seems like it needs to die.


Hmm, I hear people say this all the time. It deserves to die because it's in bad shape right now? Imagine how that would work if applied to humans. I think the place can be re-built to it's former glory, all it needs is a real park manager with brains enough to bring people back and balls large enough to enable him to come to meetings that are about his park.


Yeah, but that goes back to my point that nobody is going to do that. Sure, it would be great, but realistically, its just not gonna happen. This park has been hanging by a thread for how long and it still hasn't improved? Unless somebody wants to pump millions of dollars into this (which nobody is going to), its going nowhere.


Nobody is going to do it because its a bad business decision. When you have Waldameer not too far away, not to mention Kennywood not too far away, Geauga Lake not too far away, and Cedar Point not too far away, this deteriorating park isn't a smart move no matter how rich you are. Again, I'd love to see it saved, but at some point we just have to face reality.

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Well someone did want to put millions into it. About mid summer a guy wanted to by the park for 20 million and put 50 million into new rides and improvments, but Leroy said he did not want the park to grow that big.

That would have saved it. If they would of asked the residents of Northwestern if they should or shouldn't I am sure most would say do it.


Also there is a 90% chance the park will not open because of the construction next door, which will cause the summer long closing of one of the main roads that bring people to the park.

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New rule may kill park land sale



By Jane Smith


02/06/07 —



SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — The future of Conneaut Lake Park appears to lie in the hands of the Summit Township Board of Supervisors.


A rule the supervisors recently established may scuttle the proposed sale of 3.3 acres of park land. The sale is considered key for the park’s future — it’s expected to raise the money the park needs to open this year and erase much, if not all, of the park’s debt.


Supervisors last summer adopted an ordinance prohibiting more than six condominiums on one acre with a three-acre minimum area in business and residential zoning districts.


However, Conneaut Lake resident Greg Sutterlin had submitted a bid to buy 3.3 acres of land at Conneaut Lake Park and construct 30 condominiums on the site, which is 10 per acre. He plans to erect units with 30 condominiums on the site which once was the Flynn House and adjacent parking lot.


However, under the ordinance, he would need at least five acres of land.


He’s 1.7 acres short.


“I need to get a variance” from the Summitt supervisors, Sutterlin said, noting “20 condos for the amount of money I’m investing is not economically feasible.” He said it’s not just the cost of the land, but the additional expenses of engineering studies and surveys and construction that have to be added.


Without the variance to allow him to build 30 condos, Sutterlin said he’s not certain he can move forward with his plan to purchase the land.


Plans were to sell the property to help pay off the park’s $2.1 million debt and have sufficient revenues to open the park this summer.


“We are trying to make it happen. We definitely want to get the park open,” said Sutterlin.


Supervisors meet today at 7 p.m. at the township building, but there is no formal vote advertised on a variance request.


The 115-year-old amusement park came under court jurisdiction after it was declared a charitable trust following a lawsuit by a former member of the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park. The park was deeded to the trustees by former park owner/operator Gary Harris to be held in trust for the residents of northwestern Pennsylvania.



Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at jsmith@meadvilletribune.com.




does anything go easy for this place???

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Currently there are many rumors circulating around the area.

I have heard they might not open for 2007 because of a development next door that will cause a major road to the park close.

Don't know if it is true or not that is just what I heard.


Also If it does open the Bluestreak may not open because it won't pass inspection.


Here are a few news on the park



Plan B


Beach Club Lease


Land Sell


Next Door Development


Also a new law passed might kill the land sale.

The Story

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Hope somthing can change because this is Conneaut's Last Chance.


By Jane Smith


02/07/07 —


SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — Although they could take no action Tuesday night, Summit Township supervisors agreed to investigate what’s needed to change the zoning ordinance to allow construction of more condominiums at Conneaut Lake Park than is currently permitted — a move which could save the financially-troubled park.


Supervisors Harry McGrath and Joel Stone listened to a request by Greg Sutterlin of Conneaut Lake to amend the township ordinance regarding the number of condos which can be built on an acre of land.


Sutterlin plans to purchase 3.3 acres of land from the park and construct condominiums, but the ordinance allows only six units per acres. His proposal is to construct a minimum of 31 — meaning a variance would have to be granted or the ordinance amended.


He said it wouldn’t be economically feasible to construct fewer than 31.


After a 30-minute dialogue between supervisors, Sutterlin, his attorney Bill Gregg, township attorney Bill Walker and CLP court-appointed overseer LeRoy Stearns, the supervisors passed a motion to have Walker “investigate a potential change (in the ordinance) and see what it would take to be approved.”


Stearns stressed the need for the change, saying without it the sale won’t go through and the park is in danger of being liquidated.


Plans are to use proceeds of the sale to pay the majority of the debt owed by the park and give it the money to open this summer.


Stearns said if the proposal isn’t accepted and the sale isn’t done by June 17, “the park will be liquidated under court supervision or by a group of individuals,” referring to a new board of directors.


That is the due date of two bank loans totaling $500,000.


Stearns reminded supervisors that should liquidation occur, the creditors “would get pennies on the dollars” and the township may not get all the money owed for unpaid real estate taxes.


“You have a responsibility to the taxpayers,” Stearns said, to ensure they do what is best for Summit residents.


He said the park employs 250 people during the summer; if it doesn’t open, it will mean a decrease in tourism and loss of jobs.


Mark Turner of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County had suggested no changes be made until a development plan is complete for the rest of Conneaut Lake Park — which is expected “by mid-February,” according to McGrath.


Stearns said Turner has no legal right to speak on behalf of the park. McGrath questioned the true debt, saying it was presented as $2.7 million.


“That $2.7 million was not confirmed,” said Stearns, about the figure presented by Turner at a recent meeting. “The numbers should not have been made public until the judge and I saw them. There is a difference with what we have and they have,” he said, noting the park figures show a debt of $2.3 million now.


McGrath questioned why nobody came forward sooner about the ordinance problem. Stearns said he only received the proposal in January and was made aware of the limited condominium construction when advised recently by Walker.


In asking for the change, Gregg said it serves a two-fold purpose. The change would allow development of high-quality housing and allow Conneaut Lake Park to address its back debt and allow the park to make plans to open this summer.


He said the park is “unique” and asked for special consideration. McGrath said, however, the park must be treated like all other township property. He must consider the safety of residents and not allow them to “be piled on top of each other.”


Sutterlin said there are other developments across the country which have higher population density codes, including in adjacent Sadsbury Township. If he wanted to build in another section of the park (which is located in both Summit and Sadsbury townships), he could meet the ordinance with no problem, he added.


However, he said the lakefront property is more valuable for condominium construction.


After supervisors gave Walker direction to investigate what can be done, McGrath said no decision could be made until the March meeting, followed by advertising of a possible change and public input.


At the same time, he said he wasn’t opposed to holding a special meeting, if necessary.


Supervisor LeRoy Bell was absent.

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Well I did not say it was closing that is just what I heard.


I did hear the park is threatning the Comision who passed the law about the condos.


I heard from an inside source that Leroy said "If you do not give permision for more than six condos an acre, the park will liquidate and you won't get your money".


A bit of sad news one of my good friends I worked with at the park Died.

Kevin L. Ball was Conneaut Lake Parks chief security died Saturday after suffering a stroke. I will miss him and he was the only good security guard the park had.


Kevin L. Ball

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  • 2 weeks later...

Published February 23, 2007 10:32 pm - The court-appointed overseer of Conneaut Lake Park has taken issue with what he sees as a sharp negative tone in a newly proposed master plan for the park.


Stearns: Park’s master plan too negative


By Jane Smith


02/24/07 —

The court-appointed overseer of Conneaut Lake Park has taken issue with what he sees as a sharp negative tone in a newly proposed master plan for the park.


The plan was presented Wednesday by Mark Turner, executive director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County and includes research from the park’s past year. And park overseer LeRoy Stearns is not pleased with what he’s seeing.


He said Turner’s plan has highlighted only the negative, none of the positive things at CLP in 2006.


Stearns was surprised to see the plan draft made public, saying EPA had asked for response from him and CLP manager George Deshner before it was to be revealed. Turner said Wednesday the full plan will be made public next week.


It shows the park had an operating loss of $116,000 for the period from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2006. In addition, Turner said had the park not received $51,762 from a fire insurance payment, losses would have been $168,000.


However, a profit and loss statement prepared by Deshner to present to the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas has the loss at $103,866.86 for the period ending Dec. 31.


Stearns said looking at the master plan report without telling the rest of the story is deceiving because of its “negativity.”


“The more negativity there is about Conneaut Lake Park, the less apt we are to secure interest. In the 17 months of working at Conneaut Lake Park, all we hear is the negative. You don’t hear the positive, and there are a lot of positive things that have happened.”


He said the loss would not have been high had they not had to spend nearly $150,000 in repairs and improvements necessary to open the park and keep various aspects of it operating. Many of the costly repairs were needed because they had been avoided for years, he said.


One example was $59,000 for a sprinkler system at Hotel Conneaut. “(The work) was necessary, and by (repairing the sprinklers), we were able to open in 2006. (The sprinkler system) provided fire protection for the hotel and making the (assets of the) public trust safer is a priority.” That was — by law — to have been done in increments over several years prior to 2006, but was not.


Stearns said the money put into the repairs was therefore not available to pay bills. “Instead, we invested (those funds) for the future,” he said.


Another major problem the park faced was two major water leaks in January 2006. Although the park was closed, the water could not simply be shut off because the park’s system provides water “for customers who have nothing to do with running an amusement park.” He was referring to 138 homeowners in the area who receive water through the park’s system.


Also, two major roof repairs were made in Camperland and to the midway food stand at a total cost of $7,288. A list of 20 items totaling $148,469.71 was outlined as repairs and improvements to the park.


In addition to the repairs, Stearns pointed out many other positive items from 2006, including return of the miniature train; return of two rides, the Tumble Bug — one of only two in the country — and the Tempest, all done with cooperation of the community.


Stearns said business officials have said it takes five years to turn a business around, and he said even Turner has said it takes at least two years to show a profit. Stearns repeated that he and Deshner have only been in charge for 17 months.


He agrees with some aspects of the plan, including adding a chief operating officer, a chief financial officer and a board of directors — “just like any business — but with no money, we can’t do that.”


Currently, Deshner is paid $50,000 and Stearns, $40,000. Stearns said both men have several uncashed paychecks because there is no money to cover them, but both men are still working.


Stearns also was disappointed that the plan makes no mention of the proposed sale of 3.3 acres of lakefront property to a private developer. Stearns said that sale is expected to generate revenues to allow the park to pay off some of the debt and open in 2007.


“My focus is to sell that property,” said Stearns, noting once the debt is paid, a new board of directors can be put into place to operate the park.


“I am committed to making the park stable. I believe in Conneaut Lake Park and I’m working to sell the 3.3 acres,” he said.


“We will set aside $300,000 (of the proceeds) to open the park this year,” he added. The rest will be used to pay down existing debt.


The draft plan notes that for the park’s future, that $2.7 million debt is “manageable.”

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Park loses big on 2006 operations



By Keith Gushard


02/22/07 —

Conneaut Lake Park lost more than $100,000 from operations in 2006 — and the loss would have been even greater except for the benefit of an insurance payment, according to a preliminary financial report.



The amusement park lost $116,000 from Jan. 1, 2006, through Oct. 31, 2006, according to Mark Turner, executive director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County.


Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County was the agency awarded a $175,000 state grant in March 2006 to develop a master plan for the park. The master plan is needed before the park could seek any future state grants that might become available.


In their current efforts, alliance workers are thoroughly studying the park’s financial records. Had park officials not received a $51,762 insurance settlement in 2006 for a September 2005 fire at the former Flynn house, the park’s operation loss for the period would have been almost $168,000 Turner said.


As a result, the park’s accumulated operating losses grew by another $134,000 in 2006, Turner said. The accumulated operating loss is now up to about $1.8 million and includes such things as outstanding accounts payable, outstanding utility bills, real estate taxes and credit card debt.


The park’s total debt load — including previous borrowings and the accumulated operating losses — is now around $2.7 million, he said.


Turner presented the preliminary report Wednesday at an alliance meeting. A full report is expected to be released by the Alliance by the end of next week, he said.


“We’ll issue it publicly,” Turner told the Tribune. “We’ll ask the (Crawford County) Court (of Common Pleas) to endorse it and use it as a reorganization plan for the park. It’s going to include implementation recommendations.”


The amusement park came under county court control after it was ruled a charitable trust to be held for the people of northwestern Pennsylvania.


Turner said park officials will have a chance to comment on the report before it’s issued.


Both the park’s court-appointed administrator, H. LeRoy Stearns, and manager, George Deshner, said they had not reviewed the report yet.


“I haven’t had a chance to look it over,” Stearns said. “We just got the report yesterday (Tuesday),” Deshner said.


Deshner said he’s concerned the report may not take into consideration inventory on hand such as beverages, food and gift shop items that he estimated to be worth more than $20,000. Also, the report ended Oct. 31, 2006, and doesn’t take into account approximately $31,000 made during the Holiday in the Park event in December, Deshner said.




I've got to consider grant writing.

175,000 for creating a plan for the park.

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