Bids for the Six Flags Amusement Parks have proved disappointing.
Six Flags Inc., seeking to reduce its $2.2 billion of debt by selling six theme parks, received bids for the properties that may fall short of investors' expectations, two people briefed on the matter said.
The local park in Darien Lake is one of those. You might remember that I posted on the park's impending sale last June when it was announced because one of the reasons stated for the sale was the area's declining population. I wrote at the time that we'll have to get used to losing some local attractions if we don't get serious about improving the local business climate.
I also theorized that since our politicians in New York seem desperate to spend whatever of our money it takes to keep pro-sports around, maybe they'd consider buying the park, too.
Now, I have to say that while New York's government has no discernible interest in attracting businesses here, it does seem to be mightily concerned that we remain entertained in our misery. We're long-accustomed to state-financing of professional sports franchises, for example. Could taxpayer-supported amusement parks possibly be in our future?
Hm, "The Sam Hoyt Memorial Roller Coaster Bonanza and Waterslide Heaven" does have a ring to it. But will Christians still be allowed to hold rallies there after it's government-owned? What percentage of my Thruway tolls will go towards this new responsibility of the state? And will the park's several hundred employees now be members of the SEIU with an average salary of $50,000, retirement at age 55 and a tax-free pension?
Little did I know that the precedent has already been set. Just a couple weeks ago, New York State acquired Midway Amusement Park on Chautauqua Lake near Bemus Point.
In a deal that took more than one year to complete, New York state has officially acquired the historic Midway Park, one of the nation's oldest amusement parks.
The state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation formally closed on the Midway deal, paying $4 million for the amusement park whose roots go back to 1898. The deal was struck last fall but didn't close until Oct. 27 on the landmark Town of Ellery facility.
By acquiring the park, the state will ensure that it remains an amusement and entertainment center instead of being parceled off for development purposes. The Chautauqua County park, located about three miles from Bemus Point, had been on the market for more than two years.
Well, thank you, New York; may we have another? Gosh, we'd certainly hate to see residential development in Chautauqua County with its accompanying property tax payments and the spending by new residents at local stores and restaurants. I mean, Midway Park holds some fond childhood memories for me, but it isn't up to the government to preserve them.
Midway Park is to Jamestown what Crystal Beach once was to Buffalo. But much as we miss it, would we really want our tax dollars to have preserved it and keep it operating some twenty-five years later? We've found other places to go and other things to do. A couple generations of children have grown up without it and aren't any the worse for not having been there.
And I never got to ride on the Canadiana. I wish it were still around, but at some point we have to ask ourselves how much of our history can we expect the government to preserve? Some of it's, no doubt, worthwhile. It's hard to argue against preserving the last stop on the Underground Railroad for example. Quite another to insist on saving the little train I rode in when I was five years old (in a Davey Crockett hat no doubt.) After awhile couldn't we get to the point where we're dragging along so much of the past that we're ignoring the future?
And before someone tries to tell me that it's a perfectly proper function of the state government to preserve public access to the water, let me remind you that Midway had been up for sale for years. It was no longer profitable because so few people visited. You see, there's plenty of lake access for the residents of Chautauqua County. It had become pretty obvious that the best economic use for this land was residential development.
But New York State knows no bounds when it comes to spending and when it comes to spending on projects that are economically unsensible. I was joking when I posted on Darien Lake but I couldn't be surprised in the least were a plan for a state buy-out to surface now. When it comes to keeping us entertained in our reduced economic circumstances, Albany can't seem to do enough to please us. Just please don't ask for serious tax cuts, that's just selfish.
The Darien Lake Eliot Spitzer Concert Arena and Mosh-Pit (do kids still mosh?) may still yet figure in our future.