Efforts underway to tear down closed Wichita amusement park

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The remains of an amusement park that operated for more than six decades in Wichita are gradually disappearing.

Roger Nelson, a member of the family that has owned Joyland Amusement Park since the 1970s, said efforts are underway to tear down the park “as soon as possible,” The Wichita Eagle reports.

Several buildings have already been demolished and more are scheduled on the 50 overgrown acres where generations of people rode the roller coaster and strolled the midway. Now, crews are demolishing the remains of the roller coaster, which was damaged by strong winds this month.

Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department director Thomas Stolz said there have been problems with graffiti, trespassing and fires at the park since it closed in 2006. The Nelsons recently settled a case filed by city officials last year over the park’s condition.

Stolz called the park an “attractive nuisance” for teens and the homeless.

Roger Nelson said a creek that runs through the property has made securing it an impossible task. “It has always been an issue with us,” said Nelson, adding that the family plans to make the property available for an industrial park or some other purpose.

Joyland began shortly after the end of World War II, and the Nelson family acquired it in the early 1970s. It ran it until a decade ago, when two groups made unsuccessful attempts to operate and buy the attraction.

The park’s merry-go-round has been donated to a Wichita botanical garden that is raising funds for its restoration and installation into a new building. And The Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County is snatching up other well-known remnants, including the front of the Whacky Shack building and a horse and buggy ride. The group also is negotiating to buy a section of the track and some cars from the historic coaster, which was one of the last surviving original wooden coasters designed by the famed Herbert Paul Schmeck.

“It may be the end of Joyland as a site but it is not the end of Joyland,” said Greg Kite, president of the preservation group. “The marquee pieces are being preserved. People can still have the memories and enjoy displays reminiscent of the park.”

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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