What price can you put on memories?
When it comes to the old Chippewa Lake Park, try $3.7 million.
The once popular swimming beach and amusement park is back on the market.
The price tag includes the 95 acres situated along the shore of county-owned Chippewa Lake that was once home to the amusement park, along with 40 acres of undeveloped farmland.
The property has sat vacant — aside from the occasional trespassers and a film crew shooting a horror flick — since the park closed in 1978.
In its heyday, the amusement park and swimming beach that dated back to the late 1880s was a summer and weekend getaway for Cleveland and Akron residents who would ride trains and later cars to southern Medina County.
Some 20,000 people once converged on the park over the Fourth of July weekend in 1892, and a later traffic jam for an Akron tire maker’s company picnic stretched for miles.
The resort once boasted a boardwalk, a hotel, a bathhouse and a dance hall, where the likes of Benny Goodman, Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo performed.
Continental Business Enterprises of Cleveland paid $1.5 million for the 386-acre lake, 95-acre resort and 45-acre farm in 1969. The partnership operated the park before shuttering the gates some eight years later.
Troy Gerspacher, whose Gerspacher real estate group is handling the sale of the property, said it was his grandfather who brokered the sale of the property to Continental Business Enterprises.
“Now about 50 years later, we are selling the land again,” he said.
Most people think the property has not been on the market over the years. Gerspacher said that’s simply not true.
The property, he said, has always quietly been on the market.
“It’s just not been marketed in a traditional way,” he said.
The property had been in a legal limbo in recent years as a proposal to sell it to a group of investors who wanted to develop a resort hotel lost financing and the deal fell apart.
So the weeds and trees were once again free to overtake the remnants of the amusement park that included some buildings and derelict rides like the Big Dipper roller coaster and the Ferris Wheel.
‘Wait and see’
While the property is situated in Lafayette Township, it is closely watched and associated with its neighbor, the Village of Chippewa Lake.
Village Mayor Joanne Dodaro said she’s heard just about everything proposed for the property over the years, from another amusement park to a concert venue to the last idea — a high-end destination resort and hotel.
If she had a vote — and she readily acknowledges she doesn’t — she’d like to see it become a county park and restored to its natural state.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens next because so far nothing has ever happened next,” she said.
Gerspacher said he’s fairly confident something will become of the property this time.
“Everybody would love to see an amusement park go in there,” he said. “But I’m not sure the community can support that.”
A more likely scenario, Gerspacher said, as he has already had inquiries from developers will be some type of residential development that would incorporate the lake shore frontage of 1,500 feet.
Gerspacher said he envisions a developer working with the park district, which owns the lake itself and has a park on the western shoreline. The park district purchased the lake in late 2006 for $2.2 million after 14 years of negotiations.
“I’m excited,” he said. “We are really trying to roll [the sale] out in a big way.”
Craig Webb can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3547.