July 26, 2008

Business Owner Calls for Ousting of Park Trustees

By Jane Smith, The Meadville Tribune, Pa.

Jul. 26--A Conneaut Lake businesswoman will ask Crawford County commissioners Tuesday

to help remove the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park.

Wanda Ramaley is asking all interested persons to attend a meeting that day at 9:30 a.m. at the county

courthouse to voice their support for "immediate removal of this board." She will ask commissioners to

request Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Judge Anthony Vardaro to relinquish the board members of their park-related duties.

Her efforts may be in vain, however.

Commissioner Morris Waid said Friday that Ramaley requested the meeting, and fellow commissioner Sherman Allen told her to attend the commissioners' weekly work session.

"There are a lot of issues," Waid said. "There's a lot of legal questions." For starters, he doesn't believe commissioners "can request the courts to do anything."

Others reported Friday that the judge can't remove the board members once they're appointed. The court appointed new members when the former court-appointed manager resigned in 2007, but some local officials agreed the judge has no authority to remove them.

Ramaley said she is going to commissioners as she has no legal standing to go to court. She also has sent letters to the state Attorney General's Office seeking assistance.

The park was declared a charitable trust by the courts, following legal action. As such, the court doesn't get involved in day-to-day operations, but it must give its approval to any plans for change in the assets, such as leasing or the selling of any assets.

The park was deeded to the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park by former owner Gary Harris and is to be kept in trust for the public as a public park.

The 116-year-old amusement park has been closed since 2007 when the former court-appointed overseer said he didn't have enough money for start-up costs to open it. A new board was appointed later that summer and those members opened the Beach Club for about three months and Hotel Conneaut for a brief period.

The trustees have said the park will not open this year either, as there is no money to do so, and next year is already in question, previous reports have indicated.

Ramaley, owner of the Stable Pit & Pub restaurant on the east side of Conneaut Lake, has a key concern backing her efforts. In a recent letter to commissioners, she said the lack of tourism in recent years has caused financial troubles for businesses around the lake, mainly because the park is closed.

Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at [email protected]


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