BAINBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Bainbridge Township resident Bob Watson walked along Geauga Lake Road, just north of the former amusement park with the same name.
The view from his neighborhood is pleasant until he spots what remains of Geauga Lake over barbed-fire fences and overgrown weeds.
Watson said he can only speculate why was the park property was left abandoned in 2007 by its owner, Cedar Fair.
"Six Flags got approved to do over a 200-foot rollercoaster. As soon as that was approved, Cedar Point bought it and killed the park to kill the competition for Cedar Point," Watson said. "They don't care about the residents. The proof is over there. The structures are gone."
Area businesses along busy Aurora Road wouldn't speak on camera, but a few said they would like to see a new neighbor, or neighbors, taking care of the property. Cedar Fair only operates the still quite lucrative Wildwater Kingdom. On Tuesday, a spokesperson said the water park is not part of the 500 acres it has had up for sale since it was purchased in the fall of 2007.
While the property has been criticized by angry neighbors demanding that something must be done to keep up the maintenance of the property, Cedar Fair said it has not received any direct request from either Aurora or Bainbridge Township. The company vowed by phone late Tuesday afternoon to respond to any official requests.
Bainbridge Township Trustee Jeff Markley has worked with neighbors' complaints and Cedar Fair representatives since it purchased the park. His hope is that negotiations with the planners in Aurora, his fellow trustees and the mayor will be able to hammer out new zoning proposals to facilitate a purchase that will bring in more revenue from taxes lost when Geauga Lake closed.
Markley said he hopes the attraction of Geauga Lake itself will draw in a few interested land buyers of multiple visions, but is not interested in breaking it up into 30-acre lots. He said he has bigger visions for a future tenant.
"Breaking it up into small lots as a master plan... I don't feel comfortable as a trustee allowing that to happen. We have to have a master plan for 653 acres to figure that out," Markley said.
"We're looking to completely redo our zoning and take Geauga Lake and look at a piece of that. We've engaged Cedar Fair and they have actually come to a couple of our meetings… We hope to have it all resolved this year."
Markley said Cedar Fair has an outside zoning entity working for them and now engaged in discussions with Aurora and Bainbridge Township.
"It's a disgrace, I mean, it really is. It's the life-after-people kind of thing with the grass and weeds coming up, and trees coming up through the pavement," Markley said. "Folks I know in Aurora say they are always hearing about ‘When is Bainbridge going to do something about it? It's an eyesore.' We don't own the property; we don't have a lot of control."
For Watson, the park's maintenance solution is simple.
"The area needs to have it cleaned up and maybe put back the way it used to be," Watson said.