Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Proposed theme park a bad trip

Robert Downes - April 14th, 2008
Proposed theme park a bad trip
Remember Auto World?
Auto World was the theme park that opened in Flint in July, 1984. It was supposed to tell the glorious story of the automobile with exhibits like a giant car engine. It had all the goodies: animatronic robots, an amusement park... even a mannequin representing Jacob Smith, the founder of Flint. You walked into Smith’s humble cabin, pressed a button, and a film was projected onto the mannequin’s face, welcoming you to Auto World.
But this was one jalopy that soon ran out of gas. It proved to be about as popular as “Refrigerator World” or “Naugahyde Seat World.” Auto World went bankrupt within a year for lack of customers... possibly, they headed just up the way to “Chicken Dinner World” in Frankenmuth instead.
Now, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources is being asked to sell 1,800 acres of state land for a theme park in Grayling that promises to bring thousands of jobs to the area, along with more tourists. But to paraphrase a line from the film Sixth Sense: “I see Auto World.”
Grayling’s chamber of commerce is lobbying the State to sell the land for a proposed $161 million theme park which would be built just off I-75. More than 2,000 residents of Crawford County have signed petitions supporting the project. The new park would bring many more people in search of jobs to Crawford County, not to mention a flood of chain stores, restaurants and motels.
But, as noted in published reports, there’s doubt as to whether developer Patrick Crosson of Axiom Entertainment in Rochester Hills can pull off the project. He was involved in a theme park in Indiana in the 1990s that went bust, and he emerged from personal bankruptcy in 2006.
Still, Walt Disney owned a number of companies that went broke before he hit the right formula. After his first company collapsed, Disney reportedly survived by eating dog food. His theme parks turned out okay, so perhaps it‘s unfair to count a bankruptcy or two against an entrepreneur willing to stick his neck out.
But theme parks in general are on a downswing across the country: the $30 million Wild West World in Kansas closed within two months of opening last year. Cypress Gardens, the oldest theme park in Florida, went bust in 2004 after a major upgrade (and three hurricanes). And in 2006, Six Flags decided to sell three of its 30 theme parks because the chain is $2.1 billion in debt and has suffered a 13% drop in attendance. Overseas, Euro Disney is on the skids.
Even Cedar Point, “the world’s largest amusement park,” in Ohio, which is within half a day’s drive of some 50 million people, cut its admission prices in 2006 because attendance has dropped at the park.
Speaking of which, why would anyone want to drive 200 miles or more to a theme park in Grayling when Cedar Point is a short hop from Detroit and boasts 68 rides, some of which are acknowledged as being among the best in the world?
But the real question is what do we residents of Northern Michigan want our home to become? The scales can tip toward more urban sprawl and chain stores, or toward scenic beauty and a pleasant place to live and raise a family: you can’t have both.
The developers claim their park will bring more tourists to Northern Michigan, but it‘s also possible that the reverse is true over the long run.
When I first visited Grayling from Detroit in the late ‘70s, it was the forests, clean air and wild atmosphere of the place that made my heart soar. It was the “way up north” sensation that made me want to visit Northern Michigan.
True, some hearts might soar at the sight of the “world’s tallest Ferris wheel and Christmas tree,” a race track, roller coasters and a water park which are proposed for Grayling. But people with that sort of mindset might be more inclined to visit Cedar Point, what with gas prices heading to $4 per gallon this summer.
But for the folks who come up north to “get away from it all“ for hunting, fishing, hiking, sailing, snowmobiling, skiing, cycling (and shopping, by the way), the sight of the “world’s tallest Ferris wheel and Christmas tree” at our gate would likely be a depressing reminder that Northern Michigan is in danger of becoming as butt-ugly as the rest of America as a result of urban sprawl.
In the long run, this dubious park would be one more nail in the coffin of killing off Northern Michigan’s wild, outdoor appeal and everything that makes your heart soar when you hear the words “up north.“
And who will pick up the pieces if this thing takes a dive like Auto World?
 
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