Here’s how Monroe plans to use old Americana rides in city’s new park

Monroe will “combine the old with the new” in developing the former LeSourdsville Lake/Americana amusement park property along Ohio Route 4 just south of the Ohio 63 interchange as Monroe Bicentennial Commons park.

But with many buildings in various states of disrepair, cleanup costs will be part of the project’s estimated $9.7 million price tag, officials said.

The rides and equipment have been sold or disposed of since the end of the 2002 operating season, and what remains are shells of their former uses. Some items, including the station for the “Screechin Eagle” roller coaster and the pavilion and towers for the sky ride that took patrons over the former lake, remain.

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A number of buildings have been vandalized over the years with graffiti. While the lake is gone, the swimming pool remains and still holds water. There are a number of steel picnic pavilions in serviceable condition, but other buildings are run down and there is broken glass and debris throughout the park.

The city took ownership of the property in the past few months and has not permitted anyone to be on it due to safety hazards, according to Kevin Chesar, Monroe’s development director.

There are about 12 acres of pavement to be removed to make the park safe for walkers, and the city will need to install new electric, water and sewer utilities as part of the new development, he said.

But some of the former ride equipment — such as the seats from the sky ride and log flume cars — may be reused as future climbing fixtures, planters or benches, Chesar said. Benches from an old theatre can be reused in a future amphitheatre. The city also plans to restore some of the amusement park’s former lighting fixtures.

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“We hope to combine the old with the new,” he said. “We’re looking at many options.”

Park cleanup and the demolishing of dangerous structures should begin in mid-July, Chesar said.

Monroe City Council still must review draft plans before making any final decisions, and the development of the parks will be done in phases. A portion of the 0.5-percent earned income tax increase approved last fall by Monroe voters is earmarked for infrastructure and parks improvements.

The city is not the only government entity with plans for the land. Construction has already begun on creating a $3 million Butler Tech adult education campus on 36 acres of the famed former amusement park.

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