Conneaut Lake Park sued by former Rides Manager
Conneaut Lake Park is being sued by a former rides manager. Greg Swank on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas demanding that Jack Moyers, president of the park’s board of trustees, return roughly 5-thousand dollars worth of food service equipment that had been on loan to him in the fall of 2011. Moyers is given 20 days to return the property or else face possible legal action.
According to court documents, Swank had delivered some food stands and other equipment to Moyers in mid-September with the understanding that it would be returned by October 31st. Emails included in the court paperwork indicate that repeated requests by Swank to collect the equipment either went ignored or were put off by Moyers, who claimed he was busy with work or other obligations, until in February of 2012, Moyers asked Swank to pay some bills. An email from Moyers to Swank provided a breakdown of a total of almost 12-thousand dollars in cable, electric, and other bills. Moyers said Swank owes the money for his time working for the park.
But Swank told Forever Broadcasting those claims are, “…all out of thin air. There’s no agreement that I have to pay that stuff.” Swank went on to say Moyers wrote him a letter prohibiting him from coming onto the property, “…because he didn’t want me to get my stuff.”
Swank said, during his time as Rides Manager, he contributed thousands of dollars in services to the park, including replacing several hundred feet of track on the Blue Streak roller coaster.
“I’ve already paid through the nose to fix all that stuff, and fix the roller coaster. We probably put ten thousand dollars into the Music Express,” Swank said.
Swank, a Pittsburgh-area lawyer with experience in the amusement industry, was hired last year to manage the park’s rides. He resigned from that post last year, because he was not making a profit.
“I’m not gonna dump any more money into this losing venture,” Swank said. “All they want is to take, take, take, take, take, and give nothing in return.”
A call placed by Andy Alm, of Forever Broadcasting, to the cell phone of Jack Moyers, asking for comment on the pending litigation between Moyers and Swank, was not immediately returned.
Swank is not the only one who’s been criticizing Moyers and the park board for alleged financial indescretions. Although he hasn’t, to our knowledge, pursued legal action at this point, another Greg spoke out against the board’s actions when questioned recently. Greg Sutterlin heads up Park Restoration, LLC, which runs the Beach Club and Hotel Conneaut, under a lease arrangement with the park. Just days before learning of legal action from Swank, we called Sutterlin to inquire about the financial situation at the park.
Speaking about Moyers and the Park Board, Sutterlin said, “We’d like to see them all resign.”
He said, “During the last three years of Park operation, crowds have continued to drop.”
He was especially critical of alleged promises made by Moyers that all money charged at the front gates would go toward fixing potholes in the roads.
“They promised the public that they’re going to fix the roads. Where has that money gone?” Sutterlin said. He said potholes pose a serious hazard for drivers and motorcyclists, and are a potential liability.
Sutterlin went on to say the park’s investment in the ride area, with the exception of the Blue Streak, was “very limited at best,” in spite of “top dollar” being charged at the gate.
He was critical of the Board’s choice of carnival vendors, saying they have a “fundamental business plan that is not consistent with the operation of Conneaut Lake Park. They are accustomed to getting top dollar for their ride, games and food. As we have learned, that will not work in Conneaut Lake Park.”
“A $20 bill will almost get a guest into our competition just north, and to top it off, in 2010, the water park was closed,” Sutterlin said.
Sutterlin said his group recently bid on a proposal to take over some of the ride responsibilities. The bid was rejected and awarded to another company. The position Sutterlin had been been hoping to land is the same position held by Greg Swank in 2011.
Sutterland said repeated requests for the board’s president, Jack Moyers, to disclose records of revenues and expenditures have been denied. He said he is suspicious of whether memberd of the board of trustees are making salaries, an allegation Moyers has denied.
“Officially, they don’t have to (release financial records), but they should bring it right out so it doesn’t appear they are hiding something,” Sutterlin said. He said Moyers, several weeks ago, handed him a water bill of over 50-thousand dollars, dating back six years. He said he had never been billed for water before and that was not part of his agreement with Moyers.
The park has a history of financial trouble. It owes a total of $823,281.75 in back taxes, penalties and interest dating to 1997.
Moyers refused to be recorded for our radio stations, but he did tell us he has the right to keep business transactions carried out by the park private. He says the court-appointed board can hire whomever they want.
“If Greg (Sutterlin) has a problem, he should take it up with me,” Moyers said. He said he doesn’t feel Sutterlin should have spoken to the media about the issue.
In 2007, the park was given over to a “public trust,” headed by a board that was appointed by Crawford County President Judge Anthony Vardaro. Several board members have come and gone since that time. Moyers denied that anyone on the board was being paid.
POSTED BELOW: Email chain revealing requests by Swank to retrieve equipment: