Conneaut Lake Park cancels 2020 season due to pandemic

The Conneaut Lake Park midway will remain empty for the 2020 season as the park will not be opening due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

There will only be one bidder for Conneaut Lake Park at next month's sale through federal bankruptcy court.

Only one qualified bid — from Keldon Holdings LLC for $1.2 million — was submitted by Friday’s deadline, according to a filing Monday afternoon with U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Western Pennsylvania.

Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, the nonprofit corporation that oversees amusement park operations, filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2014. Bankruptcy court rules require court approval for the sale of any assets.

In January, the court approved Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park’s plan to auction off the park’s assets for at least $1.2 million. No major objections to the auction were filed with bankruptcy court by Wednesday's deadline for objections.

However, attorneys for three secured creditors — Mercer County State Bank, Conneaut Lake Joint Municipal Authority, and Joseph and Isabel Prischak — filed objections on behalf of their clients asking the proceeds of the sale be held in escrow until final sales agreements are signed reached.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection did not object to the sale itself. However, it did object because the sale does not address the transition of the park's water system, specifically, the employment of certified personnel and the responsibility to ensure the collection, analysis and reporting of compliance samples from the water supply.

Under the court approved Trustees’ plan, any successful bidder must allow continued public access to the park’s property. Certain parts of the property have restrictions requiring it to be open for use by the general public.

The plan required a minimum bid of $1.2 million for the assets with Keldon Holdings LLC listed as a qualified stalking-horse bidder.

A stalking-horse bid is an initial bid on the assets of a bankrupt company. The stalking-horse bidder sets the minimum bid.

With no other qualified bids submitted by Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline, there now will be no auction held prior to the March 2 sale hearing, according to the bid procedures order.

Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park will ask the court to approve the sale of assets to Keldon Holdings LLC at the sale hearing.

The assets include the amusement park, water park, beach area, Hotel Conneaut and the Camperland campground, as well as active leases on assets.

Jim Becker, executive director of Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, said Trustees' use of the bankruptcy process allowed for transparency of the proposed sale. The bankruptcy court process required public advertising as well as process for other potential qualified bidders to participate if they chose.

The proposed auction sale, first announced through bankruptcy court's public filings in late January, did create interest, according to Becker.

There were 10 other potential bidders who had expressed interest to varying degrees, he added.

However, all 10 ultimately chose not to submit bids to the court by last week's deadline, which left Keldon as the lone entity.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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