Future of Conneaut Lake amusement park in doubt - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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Future of Conneaut Lake amusement park in doubt

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MEADVILLE, Pa. -

After more than 120 years, the days may be numbered for Conneaut Lake Park.

At a special meeting in Meadville on Thursday, Crawford County Commissioners took action to move the 200 acre park closer to a sheriff's sale.

The park has struggled to hang-on opening only on summer weekends. A plan to revitalize the park and add new features to attract visitors year-round had been submitted by the Economic Progress Alliance Of Crawford County. The group made some improvements to the beach area and began the work of removing fences and debris over the last few months.

At the special meeting to consider the plan, several people spoke in favor giving the plan a chance to save the park and it's generations of memories.

Don Weyel, who has operated the parks live pony rides for 63 years, talked about the generations of high school students who work summer jobs at the park.

The commissioners said the plan had too many "maybes" and "ifs" about the financing and that local taxing bodies, including schools, would wait up to four years for the owed back taxes.

"The length of the time of the plan is what did it in for the commissioners, the four year plan with only $100,000 down, with the hope of paying the rest but no concrete way of doing that," said Commissioner Francis Weidersphan Jr.

The park currently owes $900,000 in back taxes.

By unanimous vote, the commissioners rejected the plan and moved to proceed toward a sheriff's sale. Paul Hohman, who said his family has enjoyed the park for nine decades, is worried about what a sheriff's sale could bring.

"Pennies on the dollar, some people get things, then bulldoze the whole thing and destroy everything. Then all the parties lose on both sides," Hohman said.

Park volunteer, Suvie Loomis was hoping for happier news. "I feel badly about it, I think it's a little jewel box that's going to be overlooked if something's not done," said Loomis.

The sheriff's sale could happen as soon as October.

Commissioner Weidersphan said he believes the commissioners would give new consideration to a shorter one year plan to settle the tax debt.

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