Meadville Tribune

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April 25, 2014

Trustees on board with plan to revamp park oversight group

After twice putting it off this week, Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park announced Friday it has voted to approve a plan from the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County to revitalize the amusement park.

According to a statement given to the Tribune by Brian Pulito, attorney for Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, the Trustees have voted to approve the EPA plan pending approval from the Office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The Progress Alliance, the county’s lead economic development agency, submitted a proposal to the Trustees to create a new board to oversee the amusement park’s operations.

The Trustees’ statement indicates the attorney general was unavailable to approve the Trustees’ action on Friday afternoon and the Trustees are assuming Kane will be available Monday morning.

In October, the Office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane petitioned the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas to oust the current Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, claiming the current board has failed to properly care for the amusement park. Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park is the corporation that oversees the public trust that owns the park.

The Office of Attorney General still is reviewing Conneaut Lake Park’s financial records, meeting minutes and insurance policies.

The state’s petition alleges, among other things, that: The board failed to take advantage of business opportunities that would have generated more revenue; that Trustees steered business away from Hotel Conneaut; and that these incidents and failure to insure Dreamland Ballroom and The Beach Club represent “serious breaches of their (Trustees) fiduciary duty.”

Last week, Crawford County commissioners Francis Weiderspahn Jr., Jack Lynch and C. Sherman Allen unanimously endorsed the Economic Progress Alliance’s proposal as a way to save Conneaut Lake Park from being sold at the county’s annual tax sale Sept. 26.

However, commissioners required an acceptable formal plan for Conneaut Lake Park to repay overdue property taxes of more than $900,000 that date back to 1997. The proposal would repay the property taxes over a four-year period, according to Mark Turner, executive director of the Progress Alliance.

As of April 4, Conneaut Lake Park owed $906,595.44 in back property taxes, interest and penalties to Conneaut School District, Crawford County and Sadsbury and Summit townships, dating back to 1997, according to figures from the Crawford County Treasurer’s Office.

Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park is a corporation that oversees the public trust that owns the park. Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park has been in charge of the park since 2007.

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