Sentimentality vs. sensibility

I must begin this quagmire of insanity, also known as my column, by imparting some news of a celebratory nature. Hang on to something.

This week marks my eighth year as an ad huckster—I mean PEDDLER, for the award-winning Community News.

Oh simmer down now. There's no need to make a huge fuss over it. You know how your displays of pure adoration cause great discomfort for me. I embarrass so easily. I really must insist that you sit down and stop that clapping.

Now that I've caused a rush on barn boot purchases throughout the reading region, I shall get on with something, even if it's wrong.

I have noticed a trend for the last few years that is quite disturbing. It is the fact that many people have become terrified to voice an opinion due to fear of massive repercussions.

Who am I kidding? I too have been reduced to a quivering, whimpering blob of spineless humanity when it comes to sharing certain views with the general public. I realize that last sentence is hard to believe but it's true.

There is one topic in particular that has created inner turmoil, arguments with myself and other signs of my impending institutional placement.

I have struggled with penning anything remotely negative about said subject due to the above-mentioned wuss factor.

Those days are now over because I am going to dip my toe into the pond of panic and simply tell you how I really feel.

You see, my dear readers, I think that it's my job, my duty, my obligation, if you will, (and even if you won't), to slap some sense into the readership when need be. Need be right now. That was not even grammatically correct.

I'm attempting to draw this intro out for the entire column space, thus, avoiding the point and saving my life when all isn't said and isn't done. Get it? I don't either so just ignore that part.

OK, I'm going spill it. (I'm taking a deep breath.) In my humble opinion, I think that it's time to face reality when it comes to the non-future of Conneaut Lake Park. Whew, I said it.

There have been many valiant efforts on behalf of a plethora of locals to save CLP. Hats off to all who/whom have participated in such goings on.

I'm not trying to take away from any of those accomplishments, or attempts. However, and you knew that was coming, it's time to conclude that there is very little hope for this landmark.

The last time I checked, the park is in debt for millions, yes, MILLIONS, with an “S,” of dollars. Will holding flea markets, fundraisers and/or passing the collection plate really, honestly even begin to provide the needed aid? In a word, or three, no, it won't.

I've taken note that sentimentality has begun to outweigh sensibility when it comes to CLP. Almost every time a person is interviewed about the park, he/she waxes on poetically about how So and So got married on the Free Act Lawn or how Such and Such danced the night away at the Beach Club. There is rarely any mention of how the park has become a money pit, for lack of a better description. We cannot let our fond reflections dictate our ability to reason.

Before you gather the pitchforks, I have to say that I'm not a cold blooded beast, contrary to popular belief. I, too, have an attachment to our dear “Lady,” as it was called in a letter to the editor years ago.

My mother was literally, not figuratively, but, literally, born in the park. My great uncle was the chief of police for many years. Mother's entire family had a deep connection to the park. My father's band strolled along the midway and the boardwalk in order to entertain the masses. I worked there, (after mom fired me from her store). I kissed a Pittsburgh boy on the boardwalk, (don't tell anyone), went to park dances and carried on like a wild thing back in the day.

All of the above-mentioned are terrific memories and I shall cherish them for life. However, that is no reason for me to allow the logical side of my brain to invaded by unrealistic haze, so to speak.

Why do otherwise highly intelligent members of society become reduced to slushy pipe-dream idealists over the sheer mention of saving the park? Why do all coherent thoughts morph into radical, almost utopian visions of what could supposedly be? I just don't get it.

I must interrupt myself because I can feel the hate floating my way and engulfing every fiber of my being. I'm not saying that the land couldn't be utilized for reasons other than condo construction. Just because I cannot visualize the park ever being the way it once was, doesn't mean that I want to see it razed.

I've imparted this to many people over the years but who really listens to me? I think that the acreage might be useful as a Chautauqua Institution kind of destination or a sort of musical venue. (For those who are not familiar, the CI is a non-profit adult education center and summer resort located on 750 acres in Chautauqua, New York. Just Google it for more details.)

Writing this column has opened the door for mass chastisement, death threats and other delightful punishments to come my way. I understand that I will be loathed but I just couldn't go another week without pointing out what seems to be the obvious.

The days of bumper to bumper cars on 618 are over. The years of the park hosting major corporate picnics have been laid to rest. There is simply no demand for an amusement park in our area when there are other ones, with rides galore, within a 100 mile radius.

CLP is going up for sheriff's sale soon. It's over. There is no turning back. There is simply no reasonable route out of the whole mess. We all must accept it and try to get on with our shattered lives.

Since I've now put my career on the line by writing this jazz, I will be in hiding for the next few weeks. I simply couldn't be bullied into holding my tongue for another minute. I know you are all thrilled that I became brave about the whole situation. Yes, sarcasm was intended. On that note, I'm now seizing my passport and bolting for the door.