Thursday, May 1, 2003

LeSourdsville may miss a season

Amusement park's owner looks for new managers

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] The Belle of LeSourdsville paddlewheel, the Sky Rider and more are features of the former Americana.
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MONROE - The historic LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park might not open to the public this season, but it won't fade away, a spokeswoman says.

Melanie Atkinson said Jerry Couch, owner of LeSourdsville - next to the Great Miami River along Monroe's southeastern border in Butler County - is seeking to hire a new management company to operate the park that opened 81 years ago.

"Jerry doesn't want to see the park go away. He wants to preserve it," said Atkinson.

Couch reopened LeSourdsville last year and visitors could enjoy the park's rides, picnic area and small lakes for the first time since it closed in 1999.

But disenchantment with the management company that operated the park last summer led Couch to begin taking bids this year for a new company to oversee the park's operation.

Couch declined to comment, but Atkinson said Couch is evaluating bids from various operating companies and that there is still a chance the park will be open to the general public this summer. Regardless, she said, the park - at 5757 Middletown-Hamilton Road (Ohio 4) just south of Ohio 63 - will be available for temporary leasing by corporate, church and youth groups.

"All the rides are in good condition and the grounds have been well-maintained," said Atkinson.

State licenses could be obtained and inspections conducted in 30 days, she added, and the park could then open.

Jay Stewart, development director for the city of Monroe, described LeSourdsville as an asset to the local economy, regardless of whether it is open to the public or private groups.

"It provides us recreational amenities that are not available to every community and it brings in additional people and exposes new people to Monroe, adding to our economy," said Stewart.

In 1999 then-named Americana Amusement Park attracted more than 300,000 visitors, but that was less than one-tenth the average annual attendance for the much larger Paramount's Kings Island in Warren County.

Atkinson said Couch, who sells recreational vehicles from a lot adjacent to LeSourdsville, has no intention of selling the park land for commercial or residential development, and if he is unable to open the park to the public this year he will attempt to again in 2004.


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