Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Americana to reopen next April

Park needs time to renovate

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jerry Couch
        MONROE — Americana Amusement Park will reopen next April to give new owner Jerry Couch more time to make improvements.

        “Early summer became late July, and suddenly I was caught in a squeeze,” he said. “It's better this way. When I bought the park, I promised I would operate it the right way. I didn't buy it for the income.”

        He said the park will open on a limited basis for special events at Halloween and Christmas this year. By April, he said, Americana will have some new rides and attractions. He said his staff will select them in the com ing months.

        “My goal is to concentrate only on the grounds,” he said. “I'll have an outside vendor sell concessions at prices that I control.

        “The park's already in better shape than most others of its size. By next April, everything will be in place.”

        In June, Mr. Couch considered opening the park in early August. “Then reality hit,” he said.

        Opening an amusement park this late would be expensive, said Susie Storey, a spokeswoman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and At tractions in Arlington, Va. By early August, she said, the season's peak business will have passed.

        Mr. Couch, owner of Couch's Campers Inc., in St. Clair Township, bought the park in late May from Park River Corp., owner of Coney Island. The sell ing price was not disclosed.

        Park River Corp. bought Americana in 1996 from Leisure Systems Inc. for an undisclosed price and spent about $4 million on improvements.

        Attendance failed to reach expected levels.

        Nevertheless, Mr. Couch is convinced that Americana can be profitable. He hopes to generate additional income by operating ancillary attractions on the park's 68 acres, including boat and camper shows and off-season events.

        “I've got 10 people working full-time out here, and I'll add to the office staff soon,” he said. “Many of the employees formerly worked here, so they know the place.”

        Mr. Couch said he plans to open the park for company picnics and concerts.


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