Saturday, March 23, 2002

Monroe's new booty: play ship

Old amusement park facility gets new life

By Michael D. Clark,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — City officials here are sailing ahead with plans to snatch up a free gigantic playground ship — almost three stories high — that will be among the tallest structures in this Butler County city.

[photo] Jerry Couch, owner of the former Americana amusement park site, donated the Jolly Roger playground pirate ship to Monroe.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        The “Jolly Roger'' pirate ship is estimated to be worth $70,000 and is a gift from the owner of Monroe's former Americana amusement park. Though Monroe city officials don't immediately have any place for the ship, they agreed to the donation.

        “It's huge but we couldn't turn it down,” said Monroe City Manager Donald Whitman.

        Mr. Whitman explained that the donation was contingent on the city dismantling the play ship and moving it from the closed Americana site by the end of this month. The city is negotiating with local carpenter unions to dismantle and move the structure at little or no charge.

        Though the city currently lacks park space — Mr. Whitman said the Monroe Community Park “is maxed out” for such a large piece of equipment — it does have an outdoor storage area for the dismantled ship.

        City officials, working with the Monroe Park Board, expect soon to designate new park areas in the city, and the play ship will be re-erected at the best site, he said.

        The Jolly Roger, however, likely will not set sail in Monroe until the summer of 2003, he said.

        When re-assembled it's expected that the play structure will be taller than almost all Monroe's residential and commercial buildings in the city of about 8,000.

        Jerry Couch, owner of the Americana site, said he was happy to donate the giant ship to Monroe children in repayment for the community's loyal support of the park, which he bought in 1999 but has not re-opened.

        “I want to make sure the kids are taken care of and I want Monroe to know we are excited about being a part of the community,” said Mr. Couch, who also owns Couch's Camper Sales in Butler County's St. Clair Township.

        Mr. Couch has said he doesn't want to sell the park or develop over it, even though it lies in a desirable, growing area along Ohio 4. He recently began developing the adjacent property — 10 to 15 acres — for his camper sales.


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