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July 1, 1999

Historic Arnold's Park May Be Demolished For New Development

Iowa Great Lakes, IA -- The oldest amusement park west of the Mississippi is suddenly in danger of becoming extinct. Arnold's park, a 110-year-old amusement park, located on the shore of Lake West Okoboji, may be demolished to make way for a new lakeside housing development, unless supporters of the park can save it.

Chuck Long the park's current owner has agreed to sell the historic park and the accompanying land to Don Dunham, a commercial real estate developer in Sioux Falls, S.D. Long hopes that the park will be saved, but has stated that he needs to sell the park so he can concentrate on his other business ventures.

Dunham is planning to demolish the park to build a 50-home subdivision in its place and on the surrounding property. Despite resident opposition to closing the park, Dunham has stated that the land is more valuable without the park, than it is with it.

In addition to the homes, Dunham's development plans also include new docks on the lake for nearly 500 boats, a hotel, new condos and some retail development.

The thought of losing the historic amusement park to a housing development is heart breaking to many residents. Many of the park's supporters say that they have been visiting the park with their families for decades.

Arnold's Park opened in 1889 and has been one of the primary attractions in the Okoboji area since it's inception. The park is used each summer to help draw summer tourists to the area.

Coaster enthusiasts also have a stake in the park. Many have been discussing the possible loss of another historic wooden coaster. The Legend, the park's primary attraction, is a 1927-build John Miller classic wooden roller coaster. The Legend has been operating at Arnold's Park for 72 years.

Related Stories:
Nonprofit Group Hopes It Can Save Arnold's Park July 1, 1999